The latest variant of the COVID-19 virus, JN.1, is now responsible for an estimated 15% to 29% of U.S. cases as of Dec. 8, according to a posted update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
JN.1, which is currently the country’s fastest-growing variant, is expected to continue to increase in prevalence among COVID cases, the CDC stated.
It is very similar to the BA.2.86 variant, which is an Omicron subvariant that emerged in August.
“The continued growth of JN.1 suggests that it is either more transmissible or better at evading our immune systems,” the CDC said in the update.
Despite its quick growth, the agency said “there is no evidence that JN.1 presents an increased risk to public health relative to other currently circulating variants,” as it does not appear to cause increased severity of illness.
The vaccines, tests and treatments that are currently available are expected to be effective against JN.1.
“This variant is spreading very rapidly, but fortunately the current updated vaccine continues to provide good protection against severe disease and the need to be hospitalized, and it will protect you from dying,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases physician at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Tennessee, said on America’s Newsroom on Dec. 22.
People’s symptoms and severity of illness are linked more to their overall health and strength of immunity than which COVID variant they have contracted, according to the CDC.
COVID cases are currently elevated in the U.S., along with influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“We expected this increase because COVID-19 has had a pattern of increasing and peaking in late summer, and then again peaking around the new year,” the CDC stated.
“Right now, we do not know to what extent JN.1 may be contributing to these increases or possible increases through the rest of December like those seen in previous years.”
“CDC will closely monitor COVID-19 activity and the spread of JN.1.”