What is the JN.1 Variant?

Previously, while updating you about the ERIS variant, we mentioned the BA.2.86 variant (also known as Pirola), which has a faster transmission rate than its predecessors (See Publications). This variant was a derivative of the Omicron variant, which emerged and spread in America in 2021. The JN.1 variant, identified in September 2023, differs from others as it has not mutated in the S-Protein (Spike Protein) area, which is where the virus can enter the lungs but can be blocked by the mRNA vaccine. However, according to research conducted at Yale University, aside from its ability to enter lung cells, it is reported to be able to bypass the general immune protection system more easily.

Is the JN.1 Variant More Dangerous Than Other Variants?

Despite being a very new finding, the JN.1 variant is not considered to be as effective and dangerous as other variants. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Covid variants generally do not lead to very serious outcomes anymore, though they can progress more severely depending on the individual’s immunity strength. Particularly, this variant can escape the general defense system more easily, making its transmission rate much faster. Although it was first observed in September, by mid-November, it accounted for 3.5% of Covid cases in America, which rose to 21% in December.

What Risks Await Us in the Autumn and Winter Months Regarding the JN.1 Variant and Other Infections?

In the mentioned seasons, we are expected to quickly encounter what could be called a ‘triple epidemic’ of SARS-Cov-2, Influenza, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). The global vaccine industry is working to increase the production of the updated Covid vaccine. Vaccines are being produced especially for people over the age of 60 for RSV.

Can Previous COVID Tests Detect This Variant?

Yes, the tests are still valid for detecting this Variant. Even previous Covid treatment practices will still be applicable.

How Else Can We Protect Ourselves?

Dr. Zapata, a member of the faculty at Yale University who has been working on Covid Variants for years, reports that the same measures applicable during the previous pandemic are still valid: strategic use of masks, staying away from people suspected to be ill, frequent hand washing, utmost importance to hygiene, and avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated places as much as possible.