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Understanding the Omicron Subvariant JN.1: The Current Dominant COVID-19 Strain in the U.S.

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Medriva Correspondents
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Understanding the Omicron Subvariant JN.1: The Current Dominant COVID-19 Strain in the U.S.

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Overview of the Omicron Subvariant JN.1

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The Omicron subvariant known as JN.1 is currently the leading cause of COVID-19 infections in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 44% of cases nationwide as of December 18. The subvariant's prevalence data represents outbreak.info's best estimates rather than the actual prevalence, with a cumulative prevalence of 2%. It's essential to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there is no evidence the subvariant presents a higher public health risk than other circulating variants.

The Rapid Spread of JN.1

The JN.1 subvariant has been identified in at least 37 states and the District of Columbia. It is responsible for nearly 57% of new COVID-19 cases in the Northeast. Globally, the prevalence of the JN.1 variant has been on the rise, with the CDC estimating that the prevalence of JN.1 more than doubled in the U.S. between late November and mid-December. It was first reported in August 2023 and has since spread to at least 41 countries. Experts predict that JN.1 will become the leading coronavirus variant worldwide in the coming weeks.

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Symptoms and Vaccine Efficacy Against JN.1

The symptoms of the JN.1 variant appear to be similar to those caused by other strains, which include a sore throat, congestion, runny nose, cough, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, fever or chills, and loss of sense of taste or smell. The good news is that vaccine immunity is expected to remain 'cross-reactive' to JN.1. This means that those who have been vaccinated are expected to have some level of protection against this subvariant.

Impact on Hospitalizations

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Despite the rapid spread of the JN.1 subvariant, COVID-19 data shows that weekly hospitalizations have been trending downward in recent weeks. As of the week ending December 9, COVID-19 caused seven hospitalizations for every 100,000 people, accounting for a 3% increase. However, this should not be taken lightly as more than three-quarters of U.S. hospital beds are currently in use due to COVID hospitalizations. As flu hospitalizations are also on the rise, these situations could potentially strain healthcare resources in the coming weeks.

Prevention Efforts

As the holiday season approaches, the increase in the prevalence of the JN.1 subvariant has sparked concerns. It is crucial to continue adhering to public health measures, such as wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and maintaining social distance. Additionally, getting vaccinated and keeping up with booster shots offers the best protection against severe disease and hospitalization.

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