JN.1: A New Covid-19 sub-variant detected in India

JN.1- A new Covid-19 sub-variant detected in India

New Delhi: A new sub-variant of COVID-19, named JN.1, has been detected in India, with 21 cases reported so far from three states: Goa, Kerala and Maharashtra. The sub-variant, which is a descendant of the Omicron lineage, has been classified as a ‘variant of interest’ by the World Health Organization (WHO), as it has shown signs of increased transmissibility and immune evasion.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), JN.1 was first detected in Luxembourg in August 2023 and has since spread to 36 to 40 countries, mostly in Europe and North America. The sub-variant has 12 mutations in the spike protein, which is the part of the virus that attaches to human cells. Some of these mutations are similar to those found in other variants of concern, such as Delta and Omicron, which have been associated with higher infectivity and reduced vaccine efficacy.

However, experts have said that there is no need to panic over JN.1, as it is not more dangerous than the other variants and the existing vaccines and treatments are still effective against it. Dr. NK Arora, the chief of India’s National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), said that JN.1 is a common variant that does not cause severe disease or death. He advised people to follow the same precautions as they do for other respiratory infections, such as washing hands, wearing masks, and avoiding crowds.

Dr. VK Paul, a member (health) of NITI Aayog, also said that there is no cause for alarm, but vigilance is necessary. He urged the states to increase their Covid preparedness, testing, and surveillance systems, and to monitor and report any cases of influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness. He also appealed to the public to get vaccinated and follow Covid-appropriate behavior.

The table below shows the state-wise distribution of JN.1 cases in India, as of December 20, 2023:

StateJN.1 cases
JN.1- A new Covid-19 sub-variant detected in India