Arcturus, officially known as XBB.1.16, was flagged as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization late last month.

Arcturus now accounts for 12.5% ​​of U.S. cases, According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) variant tracker.

According to a study by the University of Tokyo, the spread of XBB.1.16 is about 1.20 times higher than another Omicron sub-variant called Kraken (XBB.1.5).

Kraken now accounts for about 65% of U.S. cases, leading some scientists to predict that Arcturus will become the dominant strain of COVID sometime in the summer or fall.

Since first being identified in New York in January, cases of XBB.1.16 have now been reported in more than 30 states and 30 countries, According to WHO.

The U.S. regions with the most Arcturus cases are New York, New Jersey, and California.

The pair of symptoms reported in Arcturus cases are uncommon in other Omicron subvariants and include high fever and “itchy” conjunctivitis or pink eye.

The third most commonly reported XBB.1.16 symptom—cough—was associated with other subvariants.

Still, there is no indication that XBB.1.16 causes more severe disease than the original COVID strain or any of the variants.

The name Arcturus describes the brightest star in the northern hemisphere.

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