JN.1 variant of Covid-19 on the rise in Europe: is it dangerous?

JN.1 variant of Covid-19 on the rise in France: is it dangerous?

After Omicron and Pirola, JN.1 is the new variant of Sars-Cov-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19. Its rapid spread is of interest to global health authorities. But is this newcomer already present in Europe to be feared? The response from Dr Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens.

The covid virus continues to mutate. After Omicron and Pirola its descendant, a new sub-variant named JN.1 has been detected and is of interest to virology experts around the world. Furthermore, JN.1 is already circulating in Europe. What should we expect?

A sub-variant already present in the North of Europe

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states: JN.1 was detected last September in the United States, then in around ten other countries, notably in Europe (Europe but also Portugal, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain and Iceland. For the moment, however, it is circulating weakly, representing less than 0.1% of Covid infections in the United States.

In Europe, it was detected for the first time on September 10. But as of October 23, around a hundred cases had been recorded in Ile-de-Europe, Hauts-de-Europe and the Grand Est according to Raj Rajnarayanan’s variant tracking.

A variant more contagious than the others?

But what about the dangerousness of this newcomer? According to the Prevention.com website, it presents a greater risk of greater contagion. “Some data suggests that JN.1’s parent, named BA.2.86, may be more transmissible than previous variants. Since JN.1 is a derivative of BA.2.86, there is concern that it may no longer be transmissible” explains Dr. Thomas Russo, professor and head of the department of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York.

According to Dr Raj Rajnarayanan, Assistant Dean of Research and Associate Professor at Arkansas State University (United States) who is tracking the epidemic across the globe, the prevalence of JN.1 in Europe should increase from 20.1 % in week 44 (from October 28 to November 3), more than 45% in week 46 (from November 13 to 19).

Similar symptoms

However, at this stage there is no indication that JN.1 will cause any more danger than its predecessors. The variant would not cause more serious or different symptoms from other variants of the Covid-19 virus. At this stage, the experts note the symptoms already known:

  • Fever and/or chills;
  • Cough;
  • Fatigue;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Loss of taste and/or smell;
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Headaches ;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Diarrhea.

No reason to worry more, for Dr Gérald Kierzek

Should we be worried about the arrival of this new variant? Dr Gérald Kierzek wants to be reassuring.

“We are not worried, on the health professionals side. It is yet another variant with mutations, therefore a priori a weakening of the dangerousness of the virus and ENT symptoms, with a simple epidemiological assessment. It is a virus which, like any viral syndrome, creates an inflammatory reaction in the body. It’s no different from what we know.”

On the prevention side, the doctor recalls the importance of barrier gestures against viruses in general, especially when we are in contact with fragile people. For the CDC, the vaccines currently in circulation “should act in the same way against JN.1 and BA.2.86”. “We also expect treatments and tests to remain effective” conclude the experts.