According to experts, the increase in cases worldwide indicates that JN.1, an Omicron sub-lineage, may outcompete other variants because of its high immune escape ability. Because of this, the WHO has designated JN.1 as a “variant of interest” (VOI), different from the parent lineage BA.2.86, due to its quickly spreading nature. The variation is growing the fastest in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). There is no need to panic, but people wonder if the COVID-19 sub-variant, already linked to 21 cases in India, is spreading quickly.
Enhanced transmission, immune evasion, and extended duration of infection
Dr Rajesh Karyakarte, the Maharashtra genome sequencing coordinator, claims the growth advantage is exponential and provides WHO data demonstrating how JN.1 quickly grew from 3.3% of all coronavirus cases between October 30 and November 5 to 27% a month later. “This is an 86 per cent growth advantage,” explains Dr Karyakarte, explaining that the longer infectious period, higher transmission, and immune escape were the reasons for the advantage.
According to the CDC, it is contagious and is becoming more adept at evading the body’s immune defence system than the ancestral strain. However, since hospital admission rates are low, the spike in transmission does not necessarily indicate a severe illness. Experts add that there is little risk of infection, so those who have already been vaccinated or have had a prior infection shouldn’t be concerned.
Increased spread as a result of spike protein mutation
According to genome researchers Vinod Scaria and Bani Jolly, the SARS-CoV-2 virus constantly changes and branches out into new lineages. Every infection allows the virus to develop further, and JN.1, an Omicron sub-lineage, is distinguished by the presence of an extra spike protein mutation, L455S. They claim that because of its immune solid escape characteristic, JN.1 could outcompete other variations.
According to a recent study in the Lancet, JN.1 can elude the immune system more quickly than its parent BA.2.86 due to this one mutation alone.
Should we be concerned about JN.1?
Expert in infectious diseases, Dr. Ameet Dravid, says the virus will continue mutating to become more potent. Currently, we are providing hospital treatment for minor upper respiratory tract infections. Because the variant is more immune evasive, there could be a case spike. According to Dr. David, people must receive vaccinations, particularly those who are only partially immunized. Currently, no particularly notable symptoms have been reported, and the signs and symptoms include sore or scratchy throat, exhaustion, headache, body ache, congestion, coughing, and fever, similar to previous variations.