JN.1 Covid variant: How worried should you be about the new strain?

JN.1 Covid variant: How worried should you be about the new strain?

The medical community, as well as the general public, are becoming increasingly concerned about the recent emergence of a new COVID sub-variant, JN.1. 

Several nations, including the US, several European nations, Singapore, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, have so far reported cases of the novel JN.1 variant. Between December 4 and December 10, Singapore recorded over 56.000 cases, indicating a spike in hospital admissions, particularly for those 60 years of age and older. 

Covid cases in Indonesia increased by 13% from November to December, with an average of 200 cases per day in Jakarta. 

Covid cases in Malaysia doubled, from 6796 in late November to almost 13.000 by December 10.

Compared to its precursor Pirola, JN.1 has a unique feature: it has a single mutation in its spike protein. 

Preliminary research suggests that this small genetic change may complicate immune responses brought on by immunizations or prior infections, as well as increase its transmissibility. JN.1 and other robust Omicron sub variants with high infectiousness are being compared by researchers.

Does this imply that the new JN.1 sub-variant of Covid-19 is something to be concerned about?

The WHO states that additional research is required to determine the effects of the JN.1 variant on health. For India, though, the response is currently no.

Thus far, reports of the JN.1 subvariant infection have indicated that it is mild. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s former director general, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, stated on Thursday that there is currently no evidence indicating that this variant of JN.1 is more severe.

All approved Covid-19 vaccinations continue to offer protection against serious illness and death, according to WHO official Maria Van Kerkhove. The global health body adds that “protection by XBB.1.5 monovalent vaccines are likely to be effective against JN.1”. Compared to other Omicron sublineages, the spread of this variant is unlikely to place a greater strain on national public health systems., the WHO added in its risk assessment.

JN1-related symptoms are comparable to those of other COVID-19 sub variants. A variety of symptoms, such as a sore throat, runny nose, cough, exhaustion, headache, muscle ache, fever/chills, and loss of taste or smell, can be experienced by people with JN1. 

Concerningly, the number of JN.1 cases in the US has increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggests that JN.1 could overtake other COVID strains in the next few days. According to the CDC’s most recent estimates, the percentage of COVID-19 infections with this mutation ranges from 15% to 29%. This is a significant increase from the previous estimate of 8% of cases.

It is still essential to follow preventive steps like donning masks, keeping a physical distance, washing your hands frequently, and getting tested for COVID-19 in order to reduce the virus’s spread. The CDC emphasized how important it is to continue surveillance, especially since JN.1 cases have been reported in several nations. The variation has increased significantly in a matter of weeks, and in some areas, it now accounts for over 20% of COVID-19 cases. 

“There is a need to take the normal preventive measures that we are all now familiar with,” stated Soumya Swaminathan in the interim. The Indian government and authorities are keeping a close eye on the virus, so there’s no need to panic or worry, according to health experts. A few state and district governments have issued advisories advising citizens to stay indoors during the holiday season and wear masks.

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