The Corona subline XBB.1.16, much discussed under the name “Arcturus”, has so far only rarely been documented in Germany. In the period from January 30th to March 12th, six pieces of evidence were sent, as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced in its weekly Corona report. However, only a few samples are examined for variants in Germany.

Reports from India in particular have caused a stir in the past few days. “In India, a growing proportion of this subline has recently been seen, parallel to an increase in the Covid 19 incidence there,” wrote the RKI. In the past few weeks, XBB.1.16 has been detected in various countries.

According to the RKI, the subline is characterized by three additional mutations in the so-called spike protein. The RKI did not comment on a possible influence of these changes on the severity of the disease or infections. However, experts warn against panic, as there is still hardly any reliable data.

“Arcturus” is a subline of the omicron recombinants XBB.1, which are now dominant in Germany. For Germany, the RKI expects the proportion of XBB.1 sublines to continue to increase in the coming weeks. For the subline XBB.1.5, which is currently prevalent in Germany, preliminary data do not indicate an increased severity of the disease.