JN.1 Sub-Variant of COVID-19 Confirmed in Nepal: Global Concerns Rise

JN.1 is closely linked to BA.2.86, another descendant of the Omicron variant that emerged in the U.S.
January 9, 2024
JN.1 Sub-Variant Nepal

In a significant update, health authorities in Nepal have officially identified the JN.1 sub-variant of COVID-19 within the country. Originating in the U.S. in September, this variant has now spread to more than 41 countries, becoming a matter of global concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified JN.1 as a separate variant of interest (VOI), acknowledging its rapid global spread and potential impact.

Despite its increasing prevalence, the WHO currently assesses the additional public health risk posed by JN.1 as low at the global level. However, concerns linger about the potential contribution of this variant to a surge in SARS-CoV-2 cases, particularly in countries entering the winter season, and its interaction with other viral and bacterial infections.

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Key Characteristics of JN.1:

Relation to BA.2.86: JN.1 is closely linked to BA.2.86, another descendant of the Omicron variant that emerged in the U.S. during the summer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these variants are nearly identical, differing only in a single aspect of their spike proteins, facilitating the virus’s entry into human cells.

Infectiousness and Severity: While JN.1 is responsible for a growing number of infections, current evidence does not suggest that it causes more severe disease than other SARS-CoV-2 variants. Primary symptoms are expected to align with those of previous variants, including a sore or scratchy throat, fatigue, headache, congestion, coughing, and fever.

Effectiveness of Vaccines, Tests, and Treatments Against JN.1:

Tests and Treatments: According to the CDC, current COVID-19 tests and treatments are anticipated to be effective against JN.1. Research indicates that the latest COVID-19 booster shot, designed for the XBB.1.5 variant, also produces antibodies effective against JN.1, albeit in lower quantities.

Vaccine Recommendations: In a statement on December 13, WHO’s expert COVID-19 vaccine advisory group recommended continuing with the current XBB.1.5 vaccines, as they appear to offer some cross-protection against JN.1. While vaccines may not completely prevent JN.1 infections, they are expected to reduce the likelihood of severe disease and death.

As Nepal grapples with the presence of the JN.1 sub-variant, health officials are closely monitoring the situation and emphasizing the importance of ongoing vaccination efforts to mitigate the potential impact on public health.

Ditible Staff

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