We have all witnessed it before – the havoc COVID created a few years along. With lakhs of people dying and millions being infected all around the country, COVID-19 gave everyone a nightmare. Until a few days ago, days were better, COVID was calm as the breeze. But now as we have heard in the news, a new variant has surfaced. 

The new variant, JN.1, is continuing to spread and infect people. But is it worse or less serious? Does it have new symptoms? And what can we do to protect ourselves and prevent history from repeating itself? 

Well, it’s natural to panic and have a lot of questions. In this post, we will be trying to answer all the questions you may want to ask. So, keep reading and stay informed. 

About this variant in brief

The JN.1 strain surfaced in the U.S. in September. In India, the first case surfaced in Kerala, in the month of December 2023. This variant is a close relative of BA.2.86, a lineage of the Omicron variant that is known for its rapid spread. 

While the original variant is no longer in circulation, its sub-variant has begun spreading in India and other parts of the world. One of the major differences between BA.2.86 and JN.1 is that the new variant has one mutation in its spike protein. In simple words, it is a single change that may or may not change any of the traits that characterise the virus. However, research suggests that it may provide extra immune evasion.

Things we know and don’t about the new COVID variant 

Although the research is limited and there isn’t anything to say concretely, it may come as a relief that this strain is not as serious as the previous strains, the one in 2022. However, it may also be noted that the seriousness of a disease chiefly depends on one’s immunity. The stronger the immunity is, the milder the symptoms will be. 

To talk about the symptoms, they are mostly similar to the previous ones, but with an addition of two new symptoms that many people have observed. We will be talking more about the symptoms in a while. 

At the same time, despite a recent increase in COVID cases, it’s difficult to tell whether JN.1 and other new sub variants are responsible for the spread 

When it comes to how contagious it is, the variant is observed to be spreading at a faster pace. Hence, it may be more infectious than the previous sub variants. 

Old symptoms and new symptoms 

The symptoms observed in the previous variants included cough, wheezing, fever, fatigue, and loss of taste and smell. The JN.1 symptoms, however, remain similar but with the addition of two more. These include anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Here, one may result from the other. 

Increased anxiety can trigger insomnia, making it difficult for patients to fall asleep. They may also experience lighter sleep.  This may also be due to respiratory issues and discomfort that may make sleeping more difficult

How to stay safe from the new variant

Just as the symptoms remain similar, the tips to stay safe from the new variant also stay the same. You can use the following tips to ensure maximum protection from JN.1 strain: 

  • Maintain social distancing 
  • Wear masks in public places
  • Sanitise your hands regularly
  • Wash hands regularly 
  • Take a balanced diet that boosts your immunity to ensure the symptoms remain mild if infected. 
  • Always use a handkerchief when coughing
  • Isolate if you feel you have symptoms 

Closing thoughts 

Corona cases are increasing at a fast pace. Now is the time to stay cautious and do your best to stay protected from the virus. Remember, it’s not just about your health but of those around you. Your actions can also affect others. So, stay cautious while you take care of your health. 

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