New COVID Strain XBB.1.16 Named Arcturus Spreads Fast, Linked to Pink Eye

COVID Variant - XBB.1.16

A new COVID variant is spreading across the U.S. This development follows the country reaching a new milestone of record-low deaths not seen since the pandemic’s onset.

This variant, classified as XBB.1.16 by the World Health Organization, is also known as “Arcturus.”

According to infectious disease specialist Dr. Aileen Marty, there is a new symptom to be aware of.

“Children have more instances of red eyes. So, they have a conjunctivitis that doesn’t have pus, because it’s viral and not bacterial. We’re also seeing higher fevers, especially in children,” she said.

Pink Eye (Photo: Getty Images)

In the United States, this variant is responsible for an estimated 9.6% of current cases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Higher levels of infectivity are being reported with newer variants. However, they generally tend to cause less severe disease, which is likely due to higher vaccination rates, increased immunity from previous infections, and the lower pathogenicity of recent variants, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Marty noted that recent vaccination rates have been lower. She emphasized that early vaccines do not protect against the newer variants, which is why getting an updated shot is extremely important.

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