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Updated December 20th, 2023 at 18:06 IST

COVID-19: JN.1 subvariant of coronavirus is growing rapidly in the US

Trackers monitoring variants anticipate JN.1 to soon become the dominant strain of COVID-19 worldwide.

Digital Desk
AP
Representative image | Image:AP
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In the realm of the viral diseases in US, a new player has taken the stage: JN.1, the latest subvariant of the COVID-19 virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights that this variant is currently responsible for about a fifth of the fresh COVID-19 infections in the country. Notably, it's swiftly becoming the prevailing strain in the Northeast, accounting for an estimated one-third of the latest infections.

According to a report from CNN news, JN.1 emerges from its predecessor, BA.2.86, also known as Pirola. Pirola made headlines over the summer due to a constellation of modifications to its spike proteins, surpassing 30 in number. Concerns initially arose that these substantial mutations might render it impervious to vaccines and antibodies, similar to the initial Omicron variant that caused a considerable surge in illnesses in 2021.

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JN.1 is a more virulent than BA.2.86

However, those fears did not materialize. While BA.2.86 lingered, its spread remained gradual in some countries, including the United States. Some research suggested it might have lost some of its infectiousness. Then comes JN.1, the descendant, now two iterations down the line from BA.2.86, having only one alteration in its spike protein compared to its ancestor. Astonishingly, this slight mutation appears to have made JN.1 a more robust and rapid virus.

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The CDC's estimations indicate that JN.1's prevalence more than doubled between late November and mid-December. It seems to be leveraging holiday travel patterns and diminishing immunity levels to its advantage.

Trackers monitoring variants anticipate JN.1 to soon become the dominant strain of COVID-19 worldwide. Recognizing its accelerated spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared JN.1 a variant of interest, underlining its quick proliferation but stressing that its additional health risks remain relatively low.

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Published December 20th, 2023 at 18:06 IST

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