New COVID variant JN.1 surges in the US: What you need to know

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The US is dealing with the swift spread of the new COVID variant JN.1, currently the fastest-growing in the country.

NEW YORK, Dec 16: In recent weeks, the United States has been grappling with the rapid spread of the new COVID variant JN.1, currently the fastest-growing variant in the country, accounting for over 20% of all infections, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite the dominance of the HV.1 subvariant, JN.1 is closely trailing.

JN.1, a descendant of the omicron family, is drawing attention due to its swift growth and significant mutations. Discovered in September 2023, JN.1 is closely related to the BA.2.86 strain, known as “Pirola,” which emerged in the summer. While Pirola fizzled out, JN.1 has gained momentum, with its spike protein mutation raising concerns about immune escape.

The symptoms of JN.1 are still being studied, but current observations indicate similarities to other variants, including sore throat, congestion, runny nose, cough, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, fever or chills, and loss of taste or smell.

Experts are monitoring JN.1’s transmissibility, noting a probable increase compared to its parent strain. Despite concerns about a potential surge, current data suggests a rise in cases without a significant increase in severe illness or hospitalizations. The CDC emphasizes the importance of testing, with all COVID-19 tests expected to detect JN.1.

As the U.S. enters winter and respiratory virus season, experts urge vigilance and adherence to preventive measures, including vaccination, testing, isolation for those with COVID-19, avoiding sick individuals, improving ventilation, wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces, and practicing good hand hygiene.

The new COVID-19 vaccines, while targeting omicron XBB.1.5, are expected to enhance protection against JN.1 and other circulating variants. Despite this, vaccination rates remain low, prompting health officials to urge the public to get vaccinated, especially ahead of the holiday season.

This news has been read 1387 times!

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