New Covid variant JN.1

Why in news:

  • According to the Health ministry data, India has so far reported 21 JN.1 cases in total.
  • However it is observed that all the 21 cases have been clinically mild, requiring home isolation.
  • In the last 15 days, India has registered a sharp and sudden increase in the number of COVID­19 cases which is due to the JN.1 in partial.
  • Though the first COVID­19 case of JN.1 variant was detected in Kerala during routine surveillance by the Kerala health department, it is Goa that has reported the greatest number of cases so far which stands at 19.

More news about JN.1:

  • 1 variant is spreading across the globe very rapidly which led to the prevalence of this variant.
  • Since there is presence of the JN.1 variant in most countries and its increasing spread rapidly, the World Health Organization classified JN.1 as a separate variant of interest a couple of days ago.
  • However WHO informed that the variant JN.1 did not pose much threat to Public Health.

About JN.1:

  • 1 is a variant which is actually a sub-variant of the SARS-CoV-2 and is a descendent of the BA.2.86 Omicron lineage.
  • It was at first identified in Luxembourg in late August this year after which the JN.1 variant has become the dominant variant in a few countries.
  • The JN.1 variant carries an additional mutation (L455S) in the spike protein when compared with the parent lineage BA.2.86.

Why it is a cause of concern:

  • The additional mutation (L455S) present in the spike protein enhances its immune evasion significantly.
  • Similar to the other Omicron sublineages, the JN.1 variant too has high transmissibility.
  • It is a lot easier for the virus to spread during the winter season in the Northern hemisphere.

However, it is still important to note that there is no major outbreak has been reported so far.

  • The global health body based on the limited data available has noted that JN.1 is not particularly associated with any increased disease severity when compared with other circulating variants.
  • Also, evidence from countries around the globe that have reported a surge in cases and hospitalisations caused by the JN.1 variant does not suggest higher fatality.

What should be done?

  • Some key recommendations from WHO:
  1. Wearing a mask in enclosed, crowded or poorly ventilated areas.
  2. Maintaining a safe distance from others when possible.
  3. To Practice good respiratory exercises.
  4. Cleaning your hands regularly to maintain hygiene.
  5. Stay home and avoid outdoors if you are feeling unwell.
  6. Get the test done if you are experiencing symptoms or have had exposure to someone with COVID-19 or influenza.


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