JN.1 was identified in the US in September 2023, exhibiting a slow rate of spread in its early stages. However, in recent weeks, its global prevalence has increased substantially, with the WHO designating it as a “variant of interest”.
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the coronavirus variant named JN.1 as a “variant of interest” as it triggered a new surge of COVID-19 cases in different parts of the world, including India, China, UK and US. While the situation is still evolving, here’s what scientists currently know about the JN.1 variant: It does not present a significant threat to public health, and the existing vaccines offer some degree of protection against it.
JN.1 shares a close genetic relationship with BA.2.86, another Omicron descendant that emerged last year. These two variants are nearly identical, differing only in a single aspect of their spike proteins — the component of the virus crucial for invading human cells.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing. J N.1 was initially identified in the US in September 2023, exhibiting a slow rate of spread in its early stages. However, in recent weeks, its global prevalence has increased substantially.
Symptoms associated with the JN.1 variant of the coronavirus include fever, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, extreme fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and loss of appetite. These symptoms generally manifest as mild to moderate, with patients typically recovering within four to five days.
The uptick in SARS-CoV-2 cases, particularly in regions entering the winter season and amidst a surge of other viral and bacterial infections, is a cause of concern. The concurrent presence of SARS-CoV-2 and co-circulating pathogens is expected to amplify the burden on respiratory health.
For now, the most effective measures against the JN.1 variant, as well as other variants of SARS-CoV-2, continue to include vaccination, wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, and minimising contact with individuals who may be infected. The same measures we followed during the pandemic can be adopted for public safety and well-being.