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JN.1 COVID Variant: Should You Worry? Top Symptoms To Look Out For

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), existing COVID-19 tests and treatments are anticipated to be effective against JN.1. 

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People wearing face masks to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Madrid, Spain
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A new strain of the COVID-19 virus, named JN.1 and traced back to the Omicron lineage, is gaining prominence worldwide. 

JN.1 was first detected in the US in September, and its gradual spread has now reached European countries, Singapore, China, and India.

In India, JN.1 is contributing to a surge in active COVID-19 cases, totalling 1,828 as of December 18, with one reported fatality in Kerala, where the variant was recently identified. A total of 21 cases of the COVID-19 sub-variant JN.1 have been identified thus far, according to PTI. In response to this, the central government has issued advisories to state governments, urging them to enhance health arrangements.

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Should We Worry?

On December 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated JN.1 as a variant of interest, citing its rapid spread. 

However, the agency has not classified it as a variant of concern, indicating no evidence of increased severity, reduced vaccine effectiveness, or substantial impacts on healthcare delivery compared to other circulating variants.

As things stand, there is no indication that JN.1 poses an elevated risk to public health. 

The WHO recommends the following preventive measures:

  • Wear masks in crowded, enclosed areas.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Regularly clean hands.
  • Stay updated on COVID and flu vaccinations, especially for vulnerable individuals.
  • Stay home if feeling unwell.
  • Get tested if experiencing symptoms.

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Here are symptoms to look out for. 

As highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals should remain vigilant for the following signs indicative of a JN.1 COVID-19 infection:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Change in or loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion and runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog (feeling less wakeful and aware)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (upset stomach, mild diarrhoea)

Do COVID-19 tests and treatments work against JN.1?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), existing COVID-19 tests and treatments are anticipated to be effective against JN.1. 

Notably, the most recent COVID-19 booster, initially crafted to combat the XBB.1.5 variant, appears to generate antibodies that also target JN.1, albeit in lesser quantities. While vaccines may not completely prevent JN.1 infections, they are expected to significantly reduce the risk of severe illness and death.

In a statement dated December 13, the World Health Organization's (WHO) expert COVID-19 vaccine advisory group recommended the continued use of current XBB.1.5 vaccines, as they seem to offer some level of cross-protection against JN.1.

Should you get your precautionary dose?

Medical professionals advise individuals aged 60 and above or those with underlying health conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, and liver disease to take a precautionary dose.

This recommendation is especially relevant for individuals residing in or travelling to areas where the JN.1 infection is prevalent.

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