The new covid strain JN.1 is spreading rapidly. How concerned should we be? | Health News

The new variant has spread to 41 countries, with the WHO classifying it as a ‘variant of interest’.

A new strain of SARS-CoV-2, which caused the coronavirus pandemic four years ago, has been detected in dozens of countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday classified JN.1 as a “variant of interest”. After first being spotted in the US in September, the variant has spread to 41 countries.

This new variant is now being closely monitored by public health agencies around the world as its prevalence rate increases.

Here’s what to know about the strain and its current danger.

What is the new covid-19 strain JN.1?

The new coronavirus strain, JN.1, was named BA 2.86 from a recent variant that preceded it. The latter is part of the lineage of the “Omicron” variant – the most virulent strain of COVID-19 that peaked last year.

Each virus has its own unique “spike proteins” that infect cells and cause certain symptoms. Additional changes or “mutations” in the DNA sequence of those spikes indicate the emergence of a new “variant” of the virus.

Variants may differ based on their severity, infection, and response to symptomatic treatment.

“The new variant exhibits greater genetic diversity from its predecessors, indicating the ongoing evolution of the virus,” said Laith Abu-Radat, professor of health policy and research at Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar.

BA 2.86 has 20 mutations in its spike proteins, compared to 21 for JN.1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US has named this additional mutation L455S, and says it helps the virus evade our responses. Immune systems.

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Experiencing a Covid-19 infection or being vaccinated usually helps the immune system’s antibodies to fight the virus when it re-emerges.

Where is JN.1 detected?

JN.1 was first detected in the United States in September, a month after its parent variant, BA 2.86, was registered in the country. It has spread to 41 countries, the WHO said on Monday, based on 7,344 sequences submitted to them.

Sequences of viruses from PCR experiments are constantly analyzed to detect new strains.

In the first month, JN.1 Only 0.1 percent of the coronavirus spread in the United States. However, as of December 8, it is responsible for 15 to 29 percent of all COVID cases, according to the CDC.

However, the company also noted that there is a peak of the coronavirus in the new year.

According to the WHO, other countries with the highest number of cases include France, Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden. China also reported seven cases last week.

In early December, JN.1 was also detected in the Indian state of Kerala. A 79-year-old female patient had mild, flu-like symptoms and has since recovered. On Monday, the health minister of neighboring Karnataka state made masks mandatory for people over 60 and those with heart or respiratory problems. So far 21 people have been infected with the JN.1 virus in India.

Should we worry about JN1?

The CDC found no evidence that JN1 poses a greater risk to public health than other strains, and experts say the increase in cases may be part of winter trends and conditions.

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For example, people around the world spend more time indoors allowing pathogens to spread more efficiently. “The need for heating often leads to reduced ventilation in homes, providing an environment conducive to the spread of the virus,” Abu-Radat said.

The types of symptoms are expected to be similar to those of COVID-19, and pandemic-period measures such as social distancing and wearing masks have been encouraged as a precaution.

“There may be an increase in infections, and most cases are not expected to be severe,” Abu-Radat noted.

What has WHO said about JN.1?

The WHO said on Tuesday that its risk in terms of severity is currently low and will be updated if necessary. Its growth advantage has been classified as “high” as the number of cases has been increasing in the past few weeks.

The agency noted that other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, are also on the rise as winter sets in in the Northern Hemisphere, and the spread of JN.1 could further burden healthcare facilities.

The WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, Maria van Kerkov, said in a public statement that the agency asked member states to closely monitor coronavirus cases and share data on samples when available so they can better assess circulation and “we can adapt.” advising the world.”

Vaccines continue to protect against the severe effects of the variant, according to the WHO.

What are the symptoms of JN.1?

As with other types of COVID-19, symptoms will vary based on a person’s immune system and overall health, according to the CDC.

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Common symptoms include fever or chills, cough, fatigue, and body aches.

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