JN.1 Covid variant 'more transmissible, more infectious': Ex-ICMR expert warns of more cases in India


India has recorded a total of 4,097 active Covid-19 cases, according to Union Health Ministry data. As per official data, six deaths have been reported in the country in the last 24 hours – two in Maharashtra, and one each in Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, and West Bengal.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Former DG, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has warned that the JN.1 Covid-19 variant is more transmissible, and infectious, as compared to other variants. The health expert cited “certain mutations” for the JN.1 Covid-19 variant’s transmissibility.

Swaminathan said that the JN.1 Covid-19 variant belongs to the Omicron family, the same variant that drove the third Covid wave in India.

However, Swaminathan also assured, “the public health risk is still low in the sense that because we all have immunity now because of the vaccines and the natural infections, we’ve had in the past, and that immunity still seems to be quite strong”.

“It (the vaccine-induced immunity against Covid-19) is still protecting most of us from getting severely ill. What we are seeing now is a surge of infections and because the testing has been stepped up in the recent few days, as well as the genomics surveillance, the more we test, the more we are going to detect, and also we’re going to find more JN 1. variant in the country…”

Ahead of the New Year, both centre and state governments are keeping a vigilant eye on the new Covid variant JN.1. As many as 145 Covid-19 sub-variant JN.1 have been detected in the country as of 28 December.

All the states’ health ministers are assessing the preparedness of the hospitals. The Maharashtra government on Thursday asked people and institutions in the state to remain alert for the next 10 to 15 days. Kerala reported 78 new cases, followed by Gujarat at 34.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified JN.1 as a separate “variant of interest” given its rapidly increasing spread but said it poses a “low” global public health risk.

Covid-19 variant JN.1 Symptoms

Senior consultant in Chest Medicine at Delhi’s Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr Ujjwal Prakash has explained that JN.1 is similar to other variants and sub-variants observed globally.

Common symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache.

Some may also face mild gastrointestinal symptoms.

As per Dr Prakash, some patients may witness mild upper respiratory symptoms which typically improve within four to five days.

As per media reports, some symptoms of Covid variant JN.1 might include extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, loss of taste or smell.

 

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Published: 29 Dec 2023, 09:23 PM IST



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