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The JN.1 COVID strain is now a “variant of interest,” says the WHO

Dec. 20, 2023 — The World Health Organization designated the COVID-19 variant JN.1 as a separate “variant of interest” and said JN.1 will result in a surge in virus cases, the worldwide health agency announced late Tuesday.

JN.1 was previously grouped with its relative, BA.2.86, but has increased a lot prior to now 4 weeks that the WHO has moved it to standalone status, in response to a Summary issued by the agency. The global prevalence of JN.1 increased from 3% within the week ending November fifth to 27% within the week ending December third. During the identical period, JN.1 rose from 1% to 66% of cases within the Western Pacific, spanning 37 countries from China and Mongolia to Australia and New Zealand.

JN.1 has also increased significantly within the USA. The variant accounted for an estimated 21% of cases within the two-week period ending Dec. 9, up from 8% within the two weeks prior.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID, and like other viruses, it evolves over time, sometimes changing the way in which the virus affects people or how well existing treatments and vaccines work against it.

The WHO and CDC have said the present COVID vaccine appears to guard people from severe symptoms resulting from JN.1, and the WHO described the general public health risk of the growing variant as “low.”

“As we monitor the rise of the JN.1 variant, it is important to note that while it may continue to spread, there is currently no significant evidence that it is more serious or poses a significant risk to public health.” , John Brownstein, PhD, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital, said ABC News.

In its risk evaluation on Tuesday, the WHO acknowledged that it was not certain whether JN.1 was at a better risk of evading immunity or causing more severe symptoms than other strains. The WHO really helpful that countries proceed to check the extent to which JN.1 can evade existing antibodies and whether the variant causes more severe disease.

The Latest CDC data shows that 11% of COVID tests reported to the agency are positive and 23,432 people were hospitalized with severe symptoms in a 7-day period. Last week, the CDC urged people to get vaccinated against respiratory illnesses like flu and COVID-19 before the vacations as cases rise nationwide.

“Getting vaccinated now can help prevent hospitalizations and save lives,” the agency said devices.