Covid-19 Alert: New Variant JN.1 Sparks Concerns as Festive Season Begins

Omicron subvariant accounts for a significant 44 percent of Covid-19 cases in the United States

Re-emergence of COVID-19 has raised the concern in various countries including the USA, Singapore and India where COVID cases have increased to an alarming number in previous week. Amid the ongoing battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, a fresh cause for concern has emerged with the advent of a new variant, JN.1.

An Australian doctor has issued a stark warning as communities prepare for the festive season. Presently, the Omicron subvariant accounts for a significant 44 percent of Covid-19 cases in the United States, with its transmission rate doubling in just two weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

COVID-19 Variant

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified JN.1 as a "variant of interest," and its impact is being felt across the nation with an increase in hospitalizations and, tragically, some fatal cases.

Recent evidence, however, suggests that this new strain does not pose a significantly greater threat to public health compared to other circulating variants. Despite this reassurance, Dr. Carlos Malvestutto, associate professor of infectious diseases at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, urges vigilance this Christmas season.

While we may not be reverting to the early days of the pandemic, he emphasizes the importance of not underestimating the severity of the situation. "We can't let the pendulum swing in the other way because for a lot of people, it is very serious, and people can die," warns Dr. Malvestutto.

While the current number of deaths is notably lower than this time in 2022, there has been a concerning 10.4 percent increase in Covid hospitalizations last week compared to the previous week. JN.1 sets itself apart with over three dozen mutations in its spike protein, distinguishing it from XBB.1.5, the dominant variant throughout much of this year. Encouragingly, existing Covid vaccines are expected to provide increased protection against JN.1, akin to their efficacy against other variants.

It's crucial to note that Covid symptoms remain largely consistent across all variants. These include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. As the world navigates the ongoing pandemic, staying informed and adopting precautionary measures become paramount in safeguarding public health.