DISCUSS: Arcturus – The latest “Covid variant”

Late last night, the world was rocked – ROCKED – by the announcement of yet another variant of “covid”.

XBB.1.16 – codenamed Arcturus for as yet obscure reasons – is actually just a sub-variant of Omicron, and is “fuelling a rise of infections in India” amid concerns it:

it could be one 1.2 times more infectious than the last major sub-variant.

The supposed “surge” of cases has already meant mask mandates are returning in certain parts of India.

You’ll notice it’s only ever sub-variants of Omicron these days, never full variants. This is doubtless for very complicated taxonomic reasons and has absolutely nothing to do with the next Greek letter being Pi, which would make the “Pi variant” sound very silly.

Back to Arcturus, which has apparently been in circulation since late March and is only hitting the headlines now for unknown reasons. According to the media, it’s one of over 600 sub-variants of Omicron, and is no more deadly than the others, although it might take over from “Kraken” as the dominant form in the UK.

Apparently, they’ve started naming variants on the “that sounds kinda cool” basis. It’s becoming impossible to satirise, to be honest.

Time Out magazine is keen to update us all with the latest info, including the “symptoms to watch out for” with Artcuturus, which are:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (mild or severe)
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

…or, you know, the same as every other strain of “Covid”, and every other endemic (and mostly harmless) respiratory infection. Except with one interesting new tweak, according to the Metro:

However itchy eyes or conjunctivitis has also been flagged as a possible new symptom of the variant – particularly in cases involving children.

Which is a very sneaky thing to say as we round into hay fever season, don’t you think?

Oh well, at least the NHS’s Spring Booster campaign just started. That’s a lucky piece of timing.

All in all, whenever a new “Covid” story hits the headlines, it feels like the final season of a long-running TV show. The format is tired, all the best actors have moved on to new things, the directors and writers are no longer invested in the story, and the whole thing is just an exercise in going through the motions. But what do you think?

  • Will there be a new “wave” of Covid?
  • Will they try to bring back masks in the UK? Or is it just a holding exercise?
  • How many kids with hay fever are about to get “Covid”?
  • How are they choosing the names of these variants?
  • Will we EVER get to the long-awaited Pi Variant?


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