Compared to Pirola, JN.1’s spike protein has a single mutation. According to preliminary study data, this mutation may make it more transmissible and able to dodge immune reactions from vaccination or prior infection.
Because of substantial changes in the spike protein, the current variant has been designated by the WHO as a variant of interest because it is linked to an elevated risk of transmissibility.Data on severity are still hard to come by, though. Serious pneumonia can occur in people with diabetes, underlying chronic heart or lung diseases, inadequate immunity, and other medical conditions, even if the majority of infections that are reported are minor.Risk with JN.1: Low
Vaccines: Prior vaccination confers protection. No solid data on immuno-evasiveness as of now.
But with winter around there could be a steep rise in respiratory infections. There is already a surge in Flu infections and pneumonia over the last one and a half month. The WHO in a recent announcement advises people to take measures to prevent infections and severe disease using all available tools. Wearing a mask is the most important part of prevention. An appropriate mask would confer protection. Masks are necessary in patients with Diabetes and other patients whose immunity is on the lower side regardless of the reason. It is imperative to avoid crowds and gatherings, especially during this season as there are high chances of contracting Flu or covid given the sharp rise in COVID infections.
COVID variant JN.1 has minimum symptoms
To answer the FAQ as to why we need to take precautions, it is to be noted that any pathogen, be it COVID-19 or any virus or bacteria , the way it behaves with the immune system is unpredictable and changes from person to person. And that’s the reason precisely, some get away with simple symptoms like cough and cold which subside in a week, while in some it may lead to pneumonia that can progress aggressively and may even cause death.
“Simple flu or COVID in one person could potentially be life-threatening pneumonia in another”
So it’s high time we take care of ourselves and everyone around us irrespective of the data on the severity and natural course of the new covid variant.
(Author: Dr. Vamsi Krishna Mutnuri, Consultant Interventional Pulmonologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad)