Poonam Singh

India has experienced a rapid surge in active COVID-19 cases, doubling from 938 on December 11 to 1,970 within nine days, with concerns centering around the JN.1 variant. This subvariant detected first in Kerala, has contributed to spike, prompting the Central government to increase RTPCR testing and surveillance.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has so far reported three new COVID-related deaths, one in Karnataka and two in Kerala. 

Globally, US, Singapore and Malaysia have also witnessed a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases, prompting the World Health Organization to classify JN.1 as a "variant of interest."

“Based on the available evidence, the additional global public health risk posed by JN.1 is currently evaluated as low. Despite this, with the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, JN.1 could increase the burden of respiratory infections in many countries. Current vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and death from JN.1 and other circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19," wrote WHO on X.

JN.1 Variant - Origin, Symptoms & More

JN.1, a descendant of the Pirola variant (BA.2.86), originating from Omicron, exhibits mutations in the spike protein that may enhance infectivity and immune system evasion. 

Symptoms align with previous strains, including fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, and mild abdominal pain, with an increased prevalence of gastrointestinal issues.

Despite concerns about JN.1's transmissibility, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reassures that, so far, it doesn't pose a greater risk compared to prior variants. The subvariant is not necessarily linked to severe illness or increased hospitalisations.

Experts advocate protective measures: vaccination, mask-wearing in crowded places, hygiene practices, limited exposure to potentially infected individuals, and prompt testing for symptomatic individuals. 

The emphasis on vaccination as a preventive measure remains crucial in managing the impact of emerging variants.