The recent increase in cases of sub variant of COVID 19 named JN.1 in India needs a sustained focus on genome sequencing for novel variants.
Characteristics of JN.1 Variant
- Rapid Global Spread: JN.1 variant, a descendant of Omicron lineage, has spread globally, constituting over 27% of cases. Originating in Luxembourg, it carries the additional immune-evading mutation (L455S) in the spike protein.
- Dominance and Transmissibility: JN.1 is becoming the dominant strain globally with high transmissibility. Despite increased immune evasion, no major outbreaks reported; winter season may facilitate further spread.
- WHO Classification and Severity: Recently classified by WHO as a separate variant of interest.
Indian Scenario and Response
- Detection and Cases in India: First JN.1 case detected in Kerala during routine surveillance; Goa reports the highest cases (19).
- Increase in COVID-19 Cases: India witnesses a surge in COVID-19 cases in the last fortnight.
- Surveillance and Genome Sequencing: Revised guidelines test all ILI and SARI cases for COVID-19, sequencing positive cases.
Public Health Strategies and Unity
- Masking Recommendations: Universal masking not mandated, but high-risk individuals urged to wear masks in enclosed spaces.
- Testing Integrity and Surveillance: Encourages unbiased testing and reporting without shaming states reporting more cases or novel variants.
- Avoiding Communalization and Politicization: Stresses the need to avoid communalizing or politicizing public health issues.