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HomekarnatakaNew sub-variant fast-spreading, but not severe, say experts

New sub-variant fast-spreading, but not severe, say experts

Bengaluru: With the emergence of JN.1 raising fresh concerns among the public,experts say the new subvariant of the novel coronavirus maybe fast-spreading, but there is no evidence to suggest it causes severe infections.

“India is the 41st country to report the virus. It has been going around and there is nothing to be alarmed about since the hospitalisations have not gone up much,” noted virologistDr Jacob John told DH.

The subvariant is also said to cause only mild infections. “JN.1 is a descendant of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.86, also known as ‘Pirola’. It was first detected in the US in September 2023.

“Currently, there is no clear evidence to suggest that JN.1 is more severe than the original Omicron,” said Dr Vishal Rao, a member of Karnataka’s Genomic Surveillance Committee (Covid task force).

Omicron is said to be a milder variant that does not damage the lungs. Hence, the situation is not alarming, Dr John added. “It is the same spike protein. A majority of the population would have developed some immunity owing to the vaccines and the widespread infections,” he said.

However,Dr Rajath Ahtreya, member of the Covid Technical Advisory Committee,suggested that senior citizens and vulnerable groups must exercise caution since their immunity levels could be lower. “We have seen that the elderly take a longer time to recover. The high-risk categories, especially those with comorbidities, have to exercise caution and avoid closed and crowded places,” he said.

(Published 20 December 2023, 01:13 IST)

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