The World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring the new subvariant of Covid-19 arcturus que set off the alarms for the considerable increase in cases in India, where infections multiplied by thirteen in the last month. At the moment, it is believed that this variant of the virus would be the most infectious, which is why experts warned that it could “spread throughout the world.”
Scientifically known as XBB.1.16, this subvariant was detected for the first time at the end of January. Since then, produced in 22 countries, but the one that was affected the most is India. In this sense, according to the Indian Minister of Health, 40,215 active cases of Covid were detected in the Asian country as of Wednesday, April 12, 3,122 more than the day before.
According to figures from the platform Our world in data from the University of Oxford, as of Tuesday, April 4, the number of daily infections rose to 3,108, compared to 242 the previous month. The prevalence of Arcturus in India increased from 21.6% in February to 35.8% in March, but No hospitalizations or deaths were reported, indicates the local media NDTV.
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Given the increase in cases, Indian hospitals are on red alert. Added to this, due to the “significant increase” in infections, in some states such as Haryana, the use of a mask in public places was once again imposed, a measure that was put aside for more than a year. In the state of Kerala, pregnant women, the elderly and people with previous illnesses were also achieved by this policy.
Likewise, the Ministry of Health carried out drills this week as a refresher course for doctors with the purpose of corroborating how prepared the health centers were in the face of a probable growth in patients. In addition, officials asked states to increase testing. Despite this, the government asked people not to panicexplaining that they have carried out all the preparations for a possible new wave of Covid.
In early March, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, had announced that Arcturus is the fastest spreading subvariant and that it can even evade vaccinations. In this regard, he asked the inhabitants of the country’s capital to be careful and visible that “those who are fully vaccinated can also be infected.”
The WHO placed “Arcturus” on its list of “variant under supervision”
At the end of March, the WHO placed XBB.1.16 on its “variant under surveillance” list. In this sense, during a press conference, Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical chief for Covid, stated that it is a variant “to observe”. Furthermore, she clarified that this strain “has been in circulation for a few months”. The epidemiologist added that Arcturus was detected in other countries, but that its greatest impact was in India, where it replaced other variants.
Regarding its greater contagion capacity, the woman explained that has an additional mutation in the spike protein. “In laboratory studies, it shows greater infectivity, as well as a potential increase in pathogenicity,” Kerkhove explained in this regard.
Despite the fact that the authorities mentioned that they will share them are worrisome, the epidemiologist clarified that health experts have not seen “a change in severity in individuals or in populations,” nor have they noticed an increase in the danger of the disease. In that sense, Scientists do not expect it to be more lethal than other types currently in circulation.
For their part, Japanese scientists suggested that Arcturus is 1.2 times more contagious than the Kraken strain, a subvariant that had set off alarms in Europe and the United States to fines in January due to the increase in Covid cases. In a study they published on the research site bioRxivthe researchers explained that the genetic mutation of XBB.1.16 would make it more resistant to the immune system, suggesting that “it will expand all over the world in the near future”. However, they clarified that they found no evidence showing that it has a better ability to evade immunity acquired by vaccines or by previous infection.
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