New Covid-19 sub-variant is spreading fast: Here’s what WHO says

New Covid-19 sub-variant is spreading fast: Here’s what WHO says

This sub-variant has been identified in several countries, including India, China, the UK, and the United States
New Covid-19 sub-variant is spreading fast: Here’s what WHO says

Web Desk

|

21 Dec 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified JN.1, a sub-variant of the COVID-19 Omicron strain, as a "variant of interest" due to its rapid spread globally.

This sub-variant has been identified in several countries, including India, China, the UK, and the United States.

Despite the swift transmission, the WHO stated that the current risk to the public remains low, and existing vaccines continue to provide protection.

However, it cautioned that COVID-19 and other infections may increase during the winter season. Various respiratory viruses, such as flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and childhood pneumonia, are also on the rise in the northern hemisphere.

The Covid virus undergoes continuous changes over time, leading to the emergence of new variants. While Omicron has been the dominant variant globally, JN.1 is gaining prominence, particularly in the United States, where it is the fastest-growing variant, accounting for 15-29% of infections.

The UK reports approximately 7% of positive COVID tests attributed to JN.1, and health agencies are closely monitoring its prevalence.

JN.1's rapid spread is attributed to an additional mutation in the spike protein compared to its precursor, the BA.2.86 variant. The WHO anticipates an increase in Sars-Cov-2 cases, particularly in countries entering the winter season.

Limited evidence exists regarding JN.1's ability to evade vaccine immunity, and studies are ongoing to assess its health impact. 

While no reports suggest increased severity with this variant, preventive measures such as wearing masks, practicing good hygiene, and staying updated on vaccinations are strongly advised by the WHO.

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