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HomeGeneralPanic as Experts Say a New COVID Variant Is Dominating the US

Panic as Experts Say a New COVID Variant Is Dominating the US

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Although the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, the number of infections around the United States is rising. There is now a new heavily mutated variant known as JN.1. Since it was discovered, it has become the dominant strain across the country.

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Also, the omicron subvariant is responsible for almost 50 percent of cases, and experts believe more infections will occur during the holidays. However, JN.1 isn’t isolated to the United States alone. As of Dec. 18, the World Health Organization classed the new strain as a “variant of interest” because it rapidly spreads worldwide.

More recently, the cases of infection by the highly contagious new variant have multiplied in the United States alone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now classifies the JN.1 strain as the fastest-growing variant in the country. In just two weeks, the JN.1 was responsible for over 44% of cases in the U.S. alone.

Apart from the JN.1 strain, another highly contagious COVID-19 variant is the HV.1 subvariant. It currently accounts for over 22% of COVID cases. However, experts expect COVID-19 cases to increase in the coming weeks as the peak of respiratory virus season approaches.

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ALSO READ: Americans Aren’t Fazed By CDC’s Alarm on COVID Hospitalizations

Thankfully, scientists in several countries monitor the spread of the JN.1 variant because of its fast growth and mutation. Interestingly, JN.1 is very similar to a strain that was noticed to be spreading across the U.S. over the summer: BA.2.86, aka “Pirola.” There are over 30 mutations of BA.2.86.

Furthermore, all the mutated COVID-19 variants currently spreading across the U.S. came from the omicron strain. However, JN.1 has quickly claimed the top spot. Its spread follows the rising rate of COVID hospitalizations and influenza. The CDC has warned the public that hospitals and emergency rooms may have difficulty dealing with patients by the end of December.

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The first case of the JN.1 variant was first reported back in August 2023. According to the WHO, it has since spread across about 41 countries. The first case in the U.S. was recorded in September.

“Think of (the variants) as children and grandchildren of omicron. They’re part of the same extended family, but they each have their own distinctive personalities,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells TODAY.com.

ALSO READ: Delta Variant of COVID-19 Increasing the Rate of Hospitalization Across the U.S...

“Right now, there’s nothing that says that JN.1 infection is any different from previous COVID variants in terms of disease severity or symptoms, but we’re paying close attention,” says Andrew Pekosz, Ph.D., professor and vice chair in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The virus is adapting. … I think it’s getting better at infecting humans and evading pre-existing immunity in the population … but it’s not changing symptomology too much,” he added.

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