Coronavirus (COVID-19)

New JN.1 coronavirus subvariant spreading fast in Europe and United States

by teleSUR

A new coronavirus subvariant JN.1 is spreading fast in the United States, becoming a significant contributor to new COVID-19 cases in the country.

JN.1 is responsible for 21.4 percent of new infections across the country and has become the fastest-growing strain of the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the Northeastern region, it is believed to account for about one-third of new cases. The CDC projects that JN.1 will continue to increase as a proportion of SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences.

JN.1, which is closely related to the variant BA.2.86 that the CDC has been tracking since August, was first detected in the United States in September 2023. By the end of October, it made up less than 0.1 percent of SARS-CoV-2 viruses. The continued growth of JN.1 suggests that it is either more transmissible or better at evading our immune systems.

Countries in Europe, including Denmark, Spain, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, have witnessed exponential growth in JN.1 cases, accompanied by increasing hospitalizations. The subvariant is also spreading rapidly in Australia, Asia, and Canada.

At this time, there is no evidence that JN.1 presents an increased risk to public health relative to other currently circulating variants, said the CDC. However, health officials and experts are urging the public to get updated COVID-19 vaccines to avoid severe outcomes of the viruses.

Updated COVID-19 vaccines are expected to increase protection against JN.1, as they do for other variants, said the CDC.

Recently respiratory illnesses are ticking up in the United States ahead of holidays with hospital admissions for COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus reaching their highest levels since the start of this year.

More than 22,700 new COVID hospital admissions were reported across the country in the week ending Dec. 9, the highest since February. Only about 18 percent of adults had received the updated COVID-19 vaccine as of Dec. 9.

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