March 2, 2024

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Strongest COVID-19 Variant JN.1 Spreads Rapidly Globally  

 Strongest COVID-19 Variant JN.1 Spreads Rapidly Globally 



 Strongest COVID-19 Variant JN.1 Spreads Rapidly Globally 

On December 8th, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, for the first time, included JN.1 in the COVID-19 near-term forecast (SARS-COV-2 Nowcast), stating that JN.1 is currently the fastest-growing COVID-19 variant in the United States, accounting for 15-29% of the current circulating variants.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also claims that JN.1 has the fastest growth rate among COVID-19 variants in the UK, with an expected weekly growth rate of 84.2%, far surpassing other known variants. The agency’s director warns that this variant will continue to spread in the coming weeks.

Additionally, monitoring data for COVID-19 variants in European countries also indicates that the JN.1 variant is gradually becoming dominant and is on the rise.

As of mid-November, several European countries, including Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, and France, have experienced exponential growth.

JN.1, a subvariant of the Omicron lineage, was first identified in Luxembourg in August this year and has since been detected in 12 countries, including the UK and the USA.

It is considered a descendant lineage of Omicron subvariant BA.2.86, which itself is highly transmissible and has previously raised concerns among scientists.

Immunologists at the University of Manchester suggest that the spike protein mutation in JN.1 could mean longer recovery times or possibly more severe symptoms, including fever, runny nose, headache, loss of smell, and diarrhea.

Recently, the China National Health Commission announced that, since the first local detection of the JN.1 variant in November, seven cases have been monitored in domestic cases as of December 10.

However, they note that while the current prevalence of JN.1 in the country is very low, the possibility of it becoming the dominant variant domestically cannot be ruled out, influenced by international variants and imported cases.

 Strongest COVID-19 Variant JN.1 Spreads Rapidly Globally 


What is the JN.1 Variant?

JN.1 is the second-generation sub-branch of the Omicron BA.2.86 variant, known for its increased transmissibility. This variant was first detected in samples collected on August 25th in Luxembourg.

Since November, due to the rapid increase in the prevalence of JN.1 among global strains, the World Health Organization upgraded the BA.2.86 variant from “Variants Under Monitoring” (VUM) to “Variants of Interest” (VOI) on November 21st.

Global Situation of JN.1 Variant

Since November, the prevalence of the JN.1 variant among global strains has rapidly increased from around 4% in early November to approximately 30% in early December.

As of December 10th, at least 40 countries/regions globally have monitored the JN.1 variant, with Europe having the highest proportion, and the variant’s prevalence is rapidly increasing in continents such as the Americas.

Is JN.1 Variant Spreading Faster?

From the current situation in various countries, the JN.1 variant has been growing rapidly in recent times. However, studies show that there is no significant difference in the transmission of JN.1 compared to the XBB variant.

The World Health Organization reports that COVID-19 vaccines containing components of the XBB.1.5 are still effective against the JN.1 variant. Therefore, under the condition of widespread immunity to Omicron variants (including vaccination and natural infection), the transmissibility of the JN.1 variant may be relatively limited.

JN.1 and BA.2.86 are Closely Related

JN.1 belongs to the Omicron subvariant and was first identified in Luxembourg in August. The variant was detected in the United States in September and in the UK in October.

JN.1 is considered to be part of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.86 lineage. BA.2.86 itself is highly transmissible and has previously raised concerns among scientists.

According to the CDC, JN.1 is closely related to BA.2.86, with only one change in the spike protein between the two.

Since August, scientists have closely monitored the situation with BA.2.86. They note that, unlike previous variants, BA.2.86 has a record number of mutations. Compared to the Omicron BA.2 variant, which dominated early in 2022, BA.2.86 has more than 30 mutations.

Are Symptoms More Severe with JN.1 Variant?

The World Health Organization assesses the clinical severity of infections with BA.2.86 variants, including JN.1, as low.

Recent monitoring data in the United States shows an increasing proportion of JN.1 in COVID-19 cases, with no evidence of increased severity after infection with JN.1.

In China, monitoring data shows that JN.1-infected individuals have mild or no symptoms.

Symptoms caused by different variants often appear similar, with the type and severity of symptoms usually depending more on individual immunity. Based on current evidence, the public health risk of the JN.1 variant is considered low.

There is currently no indication that the severity of illness with JN.1 has increased, and there is no evidence to suggest that JN.1 poses an increased risk to public health compared to other currently prevalent variants.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a medical doctor at the Johns Hopkins University Health Security Center, states that while attention should be paid to the JN.1 variant, it is not something that has spread extensively or deeply. He notes that it is a rare variant, a branch of BA.2.86, which itself has not truly “taken off.”

However, Professor Sheena Cruickshank, an immunologist at the University of Manchester, suggests that the spike protein mutation could mean longer recovery times or possibly more severe disease after infection with JN.1.

How to Control the JN.1 Variant?

Similar to preventing infection with other Omicron variants, it is recommended that the public continue to maintain good personal hygiene practices, wear masks scientifically, get vaccinated promptly, adhere to regular sleep patterns, maintain a healthy diet, and boost overall immune health.

 Strongest COVID-19 Variant JN.1 Spreads Rapidly Globally 

(source:internet, reference only)


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