Thursday, February 22, 2024

COVID variant JN.1 now more than 90% of cases in U.S., CDC estimates

Close to all the latest COVID-19 Cases in the United States are now caused by variant JN.1according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 93.1% of infections are now attributed to the virus. highly mutated strain.

The CDC’s latest biweekly estimate on the spread of the variant was released Friday. This comes as key trends reflecting the spread of COVID-19 are now showing signs of slowing, following a spike during the winter holidays.

“Several key indicators show declining activity levels nationally,” the agency said Friday in its weekly respiratory virus report.

Only the South has seen an upward trend of the virus in wastewater in recent weeks, according to the CDC tally through February 1.

Most parts of the country are also seeing a sharp slowdown in COVID-19 cases diagnosed in emergency rooms, with the exception of the South where trends now appear to have stagnated in some states.

The agency also released new data from its pharmaceutical testing program Thursday that suggests this season updated COVID-19 vaccines was 49% effective against symptomatic JN.1 infection, in people between two and four months after receiving their vaccine.

“New data from the CDC shows that updated COVID-19 vaccines were effective against COVID-19 between September 2023 and January 2024, including against variants of the XBB lineage, which is included in the updated vaccine , and JN.1, a new variant. this has become dominant in recent weeks,” the CDC said in a post Thursday.

CDC officials said other data from ongoing studies using medical records also offered “early signals” that the severity of JN.1 was indeed no worse than previous strains. This goes beyond the agency’s previous statements that there was “no evidence” that the strain caused more severe illness.

The CDC’s new variant estimates mark the culmination of a rapid rise in JN.1, which still accounted for less than half of infections according to the agency’s estimates. until the end of December.

Some of the first samples of the strain in the GISAID global virus database date back to August, when cases of JN.1 – a descendant of an earlier worrying variant called BA.2.86 – appeared in Iceland and Luxembourg .

By the end of September, at least 11 cases had been sequenced in the United States, sparking new concern that BA.2.86 had detected changes that were accelerating its spread around the world.

The World Health Organization intensified its JN.1 ranking to a standalone “interesting variant” in mid-December, citing the variant’s rapid rise. American health authorities refused to do the same, continuing to group the strain with its parent BA.2.86.

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