The JN.1 variant is a new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been classified as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is closely related to the BA.2.86 variant and has been detected in 41 countries.
Here is what you need to know about the JN.1 variant:
1. JN.1 Variant and COVID-19 Transmission
JN.1 is currently the fastest-growing variant in the U.S., accounting for more than 20% of all cases. It is expected to be responsible for at least half of new infections in the U.S. before December ends. The variant is more transmissible and better at slipping past people’s immune systems. However, there is no evidence that it causes more severe disease.
2. JN.1 Variant and Vaccine Effectiveness
The WHO has not labeled JN.1 a variant of concern, meaning it does not pose a significantly increased risk to public health. The CDC states that there is no indication of increased severity from JN.1 at this time. Although JN.1 has been detected in multiple countries and its prevalence has been rapidly increasing, the WHO has declined to escalate any new variants to the “concern” threshold.
3. JN.1 Variant and Symptoms
There are no stand-out symptoms that make JN.1 different from other COVID infections. People infected with JN.1 can experience a range of symptoms, including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
4. JN.1 Variant and Holiday Season
The JN.1 variant is expected to spread rapidly during the busy holiday travel and gathering season, which could fuel increased transmission. However, it is too soon to say whether JN.1 will cause a significant spike in cases.
5. JN.1 Variant and Global Spread
The JN.1 variant has been detected in 41 countries, with France, the U.S., Singapore, Canada, the U.K., and Sweden reporting the largest rates of JN.1 cases. In early November, JN.1 comprised 3.5% of COVID cases sequenced, and that rate has since grown to more than 27%.
In conclusion, the JN.1 variant is a new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been classified as a “variant of interest” by the WHO. While it is more transmissible and better at evading immune systems, there is currently no evidence that it causes more severe disease or poses a significantly increased risk to public health.