Possible disruption to holiday plans with new COVID variant JN.1

A new variant of COVID-19, known as JN.1, has experts concerned about its potential impact on holiday gatherings and travel. However, recent research suggests that the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine is effective against this variant. Unfortunately, the vaccine uptake has been low, with less than 16% of U.S. adults having received it.

Experts are calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to urge the public to get vaccinated before the holiday festivities begin. Eric Topol, MD, a professor and executive vice president of Scripps Research, believes that a high booster rate and mitigation measures could help blunt the impact of the JN.1 variant.

COVID-19 metrics are also on the rise, with nearly 10,000 people hospitalized for the virus in the U.S. for the week ending November 25, representing a 10% increase from the previous week.

JN.1 is a subvariant of the Omicron variant and is considered a descendent lineage of BA.2.86. Concerns were initially raised about BA.2.86 due to its differences from other variants and its potential to be more infectious, even for those with immunity from vaccination or previous infections.

Currently, JN.1 is more prevalent in Europe, but it is believed to have spread to every country tracking COVID-19. Wastewater data suggests that the variant is contributing to a wave of infections.

The new XBB.1.5 monovalent vaccine has been found to be effective against JN.1 and other emergent viruses. Researchers reported that the vaccine boosted antibodies against these variants.

Despite the effectiveness of the vaccine, the uptake has been low. As of November 18, less than 16% of U.S. adults have received the vaccine, and coverage among children is even lower.

Experts predict that there may be a peak in cases due to the JN.1 variant in the coming weeks, but it is difficult to predict its exact impact. Mitigation measures such as getting vaccinated, improving indoor air circulation, and wearing masks in public transportation can help reduce the spread of the virus.

In summary, the rise of the JN.1 variant of COVID-19 is concerning experts, but the 2023-2024 vaccine appears to be effective against it. However, vaccine uptake is low, and COVID-19 metrics are increasing. Mitigation measures and getting vaccinated are recommended to reduce the impact of the variant.


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