"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

New COVID variant JN.1 could thwart vacation plans

December 7, 2023 – No one planning holiday gatherings or trips wants to listen to this, but slightly the rise of somebody recent COVID-19 Variant, JN.1, is worrying experts who say it could jeopardize those good times.

The excellent news is that current research suggests that the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine appears to work against this latest variant. But so few people have received the most recent vaccine — lower than 16% of U.S. adults — that some experts say it's time for the CDC to induce the general public who aren't yet vaccinating to accomplish that now , in order that the antibodies can take effect earlier through the celebrations.

“A significant wave [of JN.1] “started here and could be mitigated by a high rate of revitalization and containment measures,” said Eric Topol, MD, professor and executive vp of Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif., and editor-in-chief of Medscape, WebMD’s sister site.

Meanwhile, COVID metrics are beginning to rise again. In the week ending November 25, nearly 10,000 people were hospitalized for COVID within the United States. said the CDCa rise of 10% in comparison with the previous week.

Who is who within the family tree?

JN.1, an Omicron subvariant, was first discovered within the US in September and is described by the organization as a “notable lineage” of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.86 World Health Organization. When BA.2.86, also referred to as Pirola, was first identified in August, it gave the impression to be very different from other variants, the CDC said. That sparked concerns that it might be more contagious than previous ones, even for individuals with immunity from vaccinations and former infections.

“JN.1 is Pirola’s child,” said Rajendram Rajnarayanan, PhD, associate dean for research and associate professor on the New York Institute of Technology at Arkansas State University, who maintains a database of COVID-19 variants. The BA.2.86 variant and its descendants are worrisome due to the mutations, he said.

How widespread is JN.1?

According to the CDC, BA.2.86 is predicted to start on November twenty seventh 5%-15% of variants circulating within the U.S. “The expected public health risk of this variant, including its offshoot JN.1, is low,” the agency said.

Currently, JN.1 is reported more continuously in Europe, Rajnarayanan said, but some countries have higher reporting data than others. “It has probably spread to every country tracking COVID,” he said, attributable to mutations within the spike protein that make it easier to bind and infect.

Wastewater data suggests the rise within the variant helps to fuel a surge, Topol said.

Vaccine effectiveness against JN.1 and other recent variants

The recent monovalent vaccine XBB.1.5, Protects against XBB.1.5, one other Omicron subvariant, but additionally JN.1 and other “emerging” viruses, a team of researchers reported in a study on November twenty sixth bioRxiv that has not yet been certified by peer review.

The researchers reported that the updated vaccine, when given to uninfected people, increased antibodies against XBB.1.5 by about 27-fold and against JN.1 and other emerging viruses by 13- to 27-fold.

Although initial doses of the COVID vaccine are more likely to help protect against the brand new JN.1 sub-variant, “getting the XBB.1.5 booster shot will better protect you against this new variant,” Rajnarayanan said.

Vaccine uptake low in 2023-2024

In November, the CDC released the primary detailed estimates of who did this. As of November 18, lower than 16% of U.S. adults had done so, with nearly 15% saying they planned to turn out to be infected.

Childhood vaccination coverage is lower: only 6.3% of youngsters are aware of the most recent vaccine and 19% of fogeys said they plan to have their children vaccinated in 2023-2024.

Predictions, damage control

While some experts say a peak attributable to JN.1 is predicted in the approaching weeks, Topol said it's inconceivable to predict exactly how JN.1 will develop.

“There will be no repeat of November 2021,” Rajnarayanan predicted when Omicron emerged. Within 4 weeks of the World Health Organization classifying Omicron as a virus of concern, it spread world wide.

Containment measures can assist, said Rajnarayanan. He suggested:

  • Get the brand new vaccine and encourage family and friends who're at high risk to accomplish that.
  • If you gather indoors for the vacations, improve circulation in the home if possible.
  • Wear masks in airports and on airplanes and other public transportation.