ALERT: Deadly JN.1 variant sweeps across US! – Are you ready for another pandemic?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

United States: Concerns have been raised among the health authorities of the United States as the new subvariant of COVID-19, JN.1, is becoming dominant and spreading swiftly. According to the latest report shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the variant is now behind approximately 44.1 percent of COVID-related cases across the US.

The CDC expressed that the last week of December was another week, which reported another week of fast spreading and marked a steep rise in COVID-related cases. According to the report by CBS News, the reported increase was more than twofold as compared to the week ending on December 9 – after Thanksgiving, which reported a surge of 21.3 percent.

Along with this, the CDC underlined that the largely hit regions of the United States are Northeast region, spanning New Jersey and New York. The official data revealed that the states have been registering 56.8 percent of cases because of the JN.1 variant.

CDC mentioned, according to CBS News, “JN.1’s continued growth suggests that the variant is either more transmissible or better at evading our immune systems than other circulating variants. It is too early to know whether or to what extent JN.1 will cause an increase in infections or hospitalizations.”

The statement was stated by the CDC after other countries also tracked the upsurge in the COVID-19 cases (because of the JN.1 variant) – which also prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to name it as a “variant of interest,” the second highest tier.

Are JN.1’s symptoms threatening?

As of now, the health authorities have not raised any concern related to more severe symptoms from the JN.1 variant as compared to the other strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, the authorities have underlined that the new variant has been posing a greater threat than other strains.

Visual Representation for COVID-19

However, the health authorities are watchful towards the JN.1 because of its unprecedented accumulation of mutations, which it has gained from its parent variant – BA.2.86 – which was a matter of concern in summer. The authorities have mentioned that the new variant has been showing additional mutations, raising concerns that it might be more transmissible.

US confirmed the first case of the JN.1 variant!

The United States reported its first-ever case of the JN.1 variant in September by labs from samples. Since that day, the nation has seen a rapid upsurge in cases, with JN.1 becoming the fastest-growing variant.

While addressing the concern, the CDC spokesperson Jasmine Reed, via email, stated, “We will continue to monitor variants, including JN.1 and provide updates when information changes.”

Are available vaccines effective against JN.1?

According to the reports by CBS News, the health experts of WHO have hinted about the variant’s “display of a higher immune evasion,” in comparison with BA.2.86. However, the variant cannot prevent available vaccines from being effective.

What do major vaccine manufacturers have to say?

A spokesperson from Novavax mentioned that the studies, conducted on nonhuman primates and mice, showed that the vaccines “induced cross-neutralization against JN.1” that was “similar” to other strains, according to CBS News.

Vaccines against COVID-19 from AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna | Credits: Reuters

In addition to this, the spokesperson for Pfizer mentioned that vaccine tests against JN.1 are in progress, and data will be revealed soon. However, the spokesperson for Moderna did not share a comment.

Meanwhile, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Dr Jeanne Marrazzo, during an interview, mentioned, “Not raising the alarm there, we’re watching it very carefully, but it’s possible we could see a quantum leap as opposed to a gradual erosion of the protection of the vaccine. And if that happens, we’re going to have to move pretty quickly.” The interview was published by the New England Journal of Medicine in December, according to CBS News.

She further stated that the health authorities have a close eye on hospitalizations and deaths because of COVID-19.

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