• Profile

JN.1 in Kerala: Experts say nothing to worry, call for continuous monitoring

IANS Dec 15, 2023

Even as reports of Kerala detecting the JN.1, a sub-variant of Omicron, have raised fresh concerns about COVID, experts on 14 Dec stated there is nothing to worry about, but stressed the need for continuous monitoring of the viruses.

The latest data from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has confirmed the presence of the JN.1 variant in Kerala, which is currently seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

JN.1 is a sub-lineage of the BA.2.86 Omicron variant and was first detected in Luxembourg in August, before spreading to other countries.

BA.2.86, also known as the "Pirola" variant, was first detected in Denmark in July.

In November, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flagged concerns over JN.1 with the potential to evade the immune system.

The CDC said that JN.1 is part of the same lineage of BA.2.86 and contains an extra spike mutation -- L455S mutation, which has immune-evasion properties.

"This is not a new variant, but for India it is new. It has been already prominent in 38 countries globally and mostly it is seen in the UK, Portugal, US and some of the other countries," Dr Ishwar Gilada, an infectious disease expert, told IANS.

"The peculiarity of this variant is some infections are occurring which have upper respiratory type involvement. That means runny nose, cough, cold, and sometimes breathlessness. But till today, there has not been a requirement for oxygen, ICU beds, or ventilators and there have been no deaths.

"So, I don't think we should be worried at all now," said Dr Gilada.

According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on 14th Dec, India recorded 1,185 new coronavirus infections. Kerala is reporting the highest -- 1,039 cases. The southern state is witnessing an uptick in cases recently.

In just a month, active cases in Kerala spiked from 33 to 768 causing heightened concern.

"Common symptoms associated with JN.1 include fever, coughing, tiredness, nasal congestion, runny nose, diarrhoea, and headaches," Dr. Dipu T.S., Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, told IANS.

He noted that "it remains too early to assess the severity and public health impact definitively, necessitating ongoing research and surveillance".

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified the JN.1 subvariant of Omicron as a "notable descendent lineage," signalling potential increased transmissibility compared to its predecessors. But, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports no evidence of increased public health risk or severity compared to other circulating variants.

"India need not worry, but we should be vigilant. The vigilance should be only for the scientific community, and not for the common public," Dr Gilada added.

Only Doctors with an M3 India account can read this article. Sign up for free or login with your existing account.
4 reasons why Doctors love M3 India
  • Exclusive Write-ups & Webinars by KOLs

  • Nonloggedininfinity icon
    Daily Quiz by specialty
  • Nonloggedinlock icon
    Paid Market Research Surveys
  • Case discussions, News & Journals' summaries
Sign-up / Log In
M3 app logo
Choose easy access to M3 India from your mobile!

M3 instruc arrow
Add M3 India to your Home screen
Tap  Chrome menu  and select "Add to Home screen" to pin the M3 India App to your Home screen