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COVID sub-variant JN.1

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    24th Dec, 2023


Recently, the Union Health Ministry has announced an alert on the Indian variant of COVID-19, namely JN.1, which was included in thelist of ‘variant of Interest’ by World Health Organisation (WHO).


The Rising COVID-19 Cases and JN.1 Sub-Variant:

Understanding JN.1 Variant:

  • Variant Lineage: JN.1 is a sub-variant of BA.2.86, also known as Pirola, first detected in the United States.
  • Mutation Characteristics: While JN.1 has only one additional mutation on the spike protein compared to Pirola, its high number of spike protein mutations has drawn attention of researchers.
  • Focus: Surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly the JN.1 sub-variant.
  • Statistics: India reports 21 cases of JN.1, with 19 traced to Goa, and 1 each in Kerala and Maharashtra.

II. Authorities' Response and Home-based Treatment

  • Alert Status: Authorities on high alert; 92% opt for home-based treatment.
  • Government Actions: Health Minister's virtual meeting, emphasizing mock drills every three months.
  • Statement: No need to panic; preparedness through drills, surveillance, and effective communication.

III. Epidemiological Trends and Deaths in December

  • Data Analyst's Insight: 19 COVID-19 deaths in December, conflicting reports of 16 deaths.
  • Daily Cases: 614 fresh cases on December 19, the highest since May 20.
  • Regional Trends: Kerala reports 2,041 of 2,311 active cases, attributing to robust reporting.

III. WHO Monitoring and Variant of Interest (VOI)

  • WHO Classification:1 classified as a VOI; considered a low global public health risk.
  • Other VOIs:1.5, XBB.1.16, EG.5, BA.2.86—all descendants of omicron sub-variants.

IV. Understanding Variants of Interest (VOIs)

  • Definition: A SARS-CoV-2 variant with genetic changes impacting transmissibility, virulence, etc.
  • VOI Criteria: Growth advantage in multiple WHO regions, increasing prevalence over time, and notable epidemiological impacts.

V. Surveillance and Genome Sequencing

  • Global Collaboration: Genomic surveillance, epidemiology, and clinical behavior monitoring.
  • Submission Requirements: Countries encouraged submitting genome sequences to GISAID and share virus isolates via WHO Biohub.

VI. JN.1 Sequences and International Cooperation

  • Data Submission: 7,344 JN.1 sequences from 41 countries on GISAID as of December 16.
  • International Contribution: India third-largest contributor to GISAID globally.

Way Forward:

Criteria for VOCs: Must meet VOI criteria and exhibit detrimental changes in severity, impact on health systems, or vaccine effectiveness.


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