The new variant of COVID-19 JN.1 has become dominating across the globe, raising concerns among the general public and healthcare providers. The variant is driving one of the biggest COVID waves across the world.
After noticing the potential threat that can be offered by the new variant, in December 2023, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the variant as a “variant of interest”. However, in January 2024, the health agency outlined that the virus is still a global health threat that has been causing “far too much.”
In addition to this, WHO also highlighted that this time COVID-19 variant has been showing long-term health consequences, causing more threats, according to The Conversation.
JN.1 and its dominance
The new variant of the COVID-19 virus has surprisingly emerged as a dominating variant within a few weeks of its occurrence. It acted as a new-look version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and rapidly displaced the other circulating dominant strains, such as Omicron XBB.
The World Health Organisation has highlighted that with JN.1, the world has probably entered a new phase of the pandemic, and concerns have been raised about whether JN.1 will be recognized as a “variant of concern” with its own Greek letter.
Roots of JN.1
Many are curious to know where JN.1 came from. The health authorities mentioned that the variant, which is also known as BA.22.214.171.124, emerged from its parent lineage BA.2.86, which was formed from an omicron sub-variant of COVID-19 BA.2.
The health experts have outlined that the infection has developed after several chronic infections lingered and remained unresolved for months, as per the reports by The Conversation.
In individuals who have had an infection because of the virus for a long time, it quietly goes through changes and keeps many mutations that help it hide from the body’s defenses and stay alive. For the new variant BA.2.86, this led to more than 30 changes in the spike protein, which is a part of the virus, allowing it to stick to the cells of a human being.
With so many infections happening worldwide, the virus is changing a lot. SARS-CoV-2 is mutating rapidly, and the new variant JN.1 is already undergoing changes and evolving quickly.
What is the severity level of JN.1?
It is to be noted that the experts have mentioned that the new variant of COVID-19 has an immune-evading feature – which makes it vaccine-immune. However, they have mentioned that the immune system is recognizing the variant and acting against it as it acted against BA.286 and JN.1. Along with this, it is to be noted that the present vaccines, tests, and treatments are acting against the variant.
The health and medical experts have further classified the elements of “severity” into two: the first is if the variant is more “intrinsically” severe, and the second is transmission – which could lead to greater illness and deaths because speed leads to more rapid cases.
What could be the next possible step?
The experts are in dilemma whether the virus will become the “next common cold.” However, they are continuously examining the trajectories of the past four (4) coronaviruses, which could possibly provide a glimpse of the path the world could be heading.
It is noteworthy that the current scenario has revealed that the world will be experiencing a continuous epidemic with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as the reports by The Conversation revealed.
Reportedly, the world is now in the post-emergency phase of a pandemic; however, the concerns regarding the virus are still high globally. The virus could affect in both ways – acute infections and long COVID.
Health experts have advised the general public to take all the possible active steps and precautionary measures for better pandemic preparedness.