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Dr. Matt Binnicker sheds light on new Arcturus COVID-19 variant 

Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D.,director of Mayo Clinic’s Clinical Virology Laboratory, was recently interviewed by Mayo Clinic News Network about a new COVID-19 subvariant – XBB.1.16, known as “Arcturus” -- that’s been listed by the World Health Organization as “a variant under monitoring” since late March 2023. While experts say this new variant does have a higher transmissibility rate than previous strains of COVID-19, it does not appear to be more dangerous.

“It is causing increasing case counts in certain parts of the world, including India,” Dr. Binnicker told Mayo Clinic News Network. “We’re not seeing high rates of XBB.1.16 yet in the United States, but it may become more prominent in coming weeks.”

While the “Arcturus” variant does not appear to be more dangerous than other COVID-19 variants, Dr. Binnicker says he and other experts are seeing new symptoms associated with it. “One new feature of cases caused by this variant is that it seems to be causing conjunctivitis, or red and itchy eyes, in young patients,” Dr. Binnicker said. “This is not something that we’ve seen with prior strains of the virus.”

Watch the full interview on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Cory Pedersen

Cory Pedersen is a senior marketing specialist for Mayo Clinic Laboratories.