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Updated December 20th, 2023 at 19:37 IST

JN.1 Covid variant: Should India be worried?

The JN.1 variant, a sub lineage of Omicron strain, is said to be the driving force behind the recent surge in COVID cases in several countries including India.

Manisha Roy
Coronavirus
No clustering of JN.1 cases has been observed in India and all the cases were found to be mild with patients recovering without any complications, officials said (Representative image) | Image:Shutterstock
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New Delhi: Amid rising COVID-19 cases in different parts of the country, the Centre has asked the states to remain vigilant, asserting there is no need to panic. The JN.1 variant, a sub lineage of Omicron strain, is said to be the driving force behind the recent surge in COVID cases in several countries including India, the UK and the Netherlands.  A total of 21 cases of JN.1 variant have been reported across the country with the first case being detected in Kerala. 

According to sources, 19 cases of COVID-19 sub-variant JN.1 have been detected in Goa and one each in Kerala and Maharashtra. Over the past two weeks, 16 deaths related to COVID-19 were recorded with the victims having serious comorbidities. NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul said that the scientific community in India was closely investigating the new variant as he stressed on the need for states to ramp up testing and strengthen their surveillance systems.

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On Wednesday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness of health facilities across the country and stressed on being alert against emerging strains of coronavirus. Union Health 

What is JN.1, new COVID-19 variant detected in India

The JN.1 strain is a lineage derived from the Omicron subvariant BA.2.86. Acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a "notable descendant lineage" of Omicron, it is recognized for its high transmissibility and ability to evade immunity. This variant has been gaining prevalence in various countries, including the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Spain, Iceland, Portugal, and others. It has been identified in 38 nations, including India, and is suspected to be linked to the recent surge in hospitalizations in some countries.

JN.1 cases: Mild illness reported among infected people

Secretary Sudhansh Pant said that even though cases are increasing, 92.8 per cent of the cases are in home isolation, indicating mild illness. "No increase in hospitalization rates has been witnessed due to COVID-19. The cases that have been hospitalized were due to other medical conditions and COVID was an incidental finding," reported news agency PTI quoting Pant as saying. No clustering of JN.1 cases has been observed in India and all the cases were found to be mild with patients recovering without any complications, officials said.

India logs 614 fresh COVID cases in 24 hours 

Meanwhile, 614 fresh coronavirus infections were registered in the country in 24 hours, the highest since May 21. The active COVID-19 cases have risen to 2,311, the Union Health Ministry data said on Wednesday. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified JN.1 as a separate "variant of interest" given its rapidly increasing spread but said that it poses a "low" global public health risk. The JN.1 variant was previously classified as a variant of interest (VOI) as part of the BA.2.86 sublineages, the parent lineage that is classified as a VOI, the world body said on Tuesday. However, in recent weeks, JN.1 cases continued to be reported in multiple countries and its prevalence has rapidly increased globally. 

Dr Rajath Athreya of Sakra World Hospital explained that JN.1 has distinct protein mutations that set it apart from other strains. He said,” The JN.1 is not merely a generic variant; it represents a distinct sub-variant of the Omicron strain, more specifically identified as BA.2.86. This categorisation indicates that while it shares genetic roots with its predecessors, it has distinct protein mutations that set it apart. One notable consequence of these mutations is a potentially higher level of infectivity.”

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He added that most patients detected with JN.1 cases are recovering without significant complications. “However, it is essential to note that initial reports from countries like Singapore suggest that, despite its unique genetic makeup, infections caused by JN.1 have not exhibited unusual severity. Most patients are reported to be recovering without significant complications", he added.

 

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Published December 20th, 2023 at 19:37 IST

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