covid

What Health Officials Are Saying About New Covid Variant JN.1

JN.1 is the newest fast-spreading variant of Covid-19, and is now the most widely circulating version of the virus, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to reports from the Alabama Local News, JN.1 is an offspring of the Omicron variant, and currently accounts for 66% of the current positive cases of Covid-19; an increase from the 44% two weeks ago. 

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In a statement, the CDC said that “Covid-19 activity is currently high. Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have increased in recent weeks. JN.1 may be intensifying the spread of Covid-19 this winter.”

Covid-19 infections, however, are not causing severe disease as frequently as it was. The CDC’s recent report showed that while cases are up by 27% compared to this time last year, the number of Covid-related illnesses requiring emergency room visits are down by 21%. 

Overall Covid-19 hospitalizations are 22% lower when compared to 2023, and the total deaths associated with Covid is down by 38%. The CDC cited the immune protections provided by vaccines, prior infections, or the combination has led to these lower percentages. 

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“Over 97% of people have natural or vaccine-induced antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19. This immune protection can fade over time but tends to last longer for preventing severe disease than for preventing infections.”

While the JN.1 specifically hasn’t caused more severe illness for those who contract Covid-19, the symptoms are similar. ALN reported that these symptoms include: sore throat, congestion, runny nose, cough, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, fever, chills, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

NBC News reported that of these symptoms, healthcare facilities have reported more upper respiratory symptoms followed by congestion and cough. The symptoms that were more common in earlier Covid-19 cases, such as loss of taste or smell and diarrhea, are much less present. 

All diagnostic Covid-19 tests, including common rapid antigen tests and PCR tests, are effective at detecting the JN.1 variant, as well as other variants. The CDC also reported that the variants are impacted by antiviral treatments as well.