A Warning about a Fast-Moving Variant of Coronavirus

Health officials are sounding the alarm on a rapid and concerning new variant of the coronavirus, which is causing a surge in illnesses and hospitalizations as we approach the holiday season and the new year.

The Fastest-Growing Variant

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this variant, known as JN. 1, is currently the fastest-growing variant in the United States, particularly in the Northeast region. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also classified it as a “variant of interest.”

Global Impact

Globally, JN. 1 now accounts for a significant portion of coronavirus cases, making up 27% of infections worldwide. This number has risen substantially since early November, especially in areas with winter climates. Monitoring of the variant began in August, with the first case detected in the United States in September.

Greatly Affected Countries

Countries heavily impacted by JN. 1 include the United States, France, Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. The CDC estimates that JN. 1 is responsible for 21% of coronavirus cases in the United States as of December 8th, with an even higher proportion in the northeastern region.

Rise in Hospitalizations

Recent weeks have seen an alarming increase in hospitalizations due to various respiratory illnesses, including influenza, coronavirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Covid hospitalizations alone have risen by 51%.

Severity of Illness

While JN. 1 is spreading rapidly, health officials have not observed it causing more severe illness compared to previous strains. Common symptoms include cough, fever, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, congestion, and loss of smell and taste.

The Importance of Vaccination

The CDC strongly emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated against respiratory illnesses. Current vaccines should provide protection against severe illness and death caused by JN. 1 and other strains. In the United States, households can order up to four free at-home Covid-19 tests through the federal government’s Covid.gov website. If a household did not order any tests this fall, they are now eligible to make two orders, receiving a total of eight tests.

As we navigate through this challenging time, it is crucial to stay informed and take necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

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