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The JN.1 Covid Variant in India and Health Ministry’s Concern

Following the emergence of the JN.1 Covid variant in India, there has been a notable surge in the number of cases. Specifically, on Thursday alone, the country reported 2669 new active cases. The Union Health Ministry has highlighted a concerning rise in Covid infections across several states, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Karnataka. Providing further insight, Dr. V K Paul, a member of NITI Aayog, stated that India has officially identified and confirmed 21 cases associated with the Covid-19 sub-variant JN.1 up to this point.

The JN.1 (BA. variant, which surfaced in late 2023, is identified as a derivative of the BA.2.86 lineage (Pirola) within the coronavirus family. Here are several noteworthy developments and updates concerning the JN.1 Covid variant:

– On a particular Wednesday, Karnataka, one of India’s states, sadly reported two fatalities associated with Covid-19. The exact cause of these deaths is still under investigation, leaving uncertainty about whether the JN.1 subvariant played a role in these fatalities or not.

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The JN.1 strain is recognized as a direct offshoot of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This variant, JN.1, has emerged as a notably mutated form originating from the BA.2.86 variant, which has been colloquially referred to as Pirola. The BA.2.86 lineage was first detected in India around August 2023 and is distinguished by having over 30 mutations within its spike protein. These spike proteins play a pivotal role in facilitating the virus’s ability to enter and infect host cells. While JN.1 and BA.2.86 share several common traits, they differ in a significant aspect: JN.1 possesses an additional spike protein. Dr. Lalit Kant, a former scientist associated with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), India’s premier medical research institution, suggests that this additional spike protein in JN.1 might enhance its transmissibility, potentially leading to a faster spread of the infection.

Amidst the rising COVID-19 cases observed in five states, namely Kerala, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, and Karnataka, Union Health Minister Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya convened a crucial meeting on Wednesday. This gathering involved discussions with key officials and chief health secretaries to address the growing concerns.

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Dr. Mandaviya emphasised the importance of maintaining stringent preparedness measures. He stressed that public health should remain a priority above all, devoid of any political considerations. Assuring the states of the central government’s commitment, he mentioned, “The Union Health Ministry stands ready to provide any necessary assistance and support.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially classified the JN.1 coronavirus variant as a “variant of interest.” However, based on the available data and evidence, the WHO has assessed that the public health risk associated with this variant remains relatively low.

Here are the latest developments concerning this emerging COVID variant:

1. Situation in India: A significant portion of the reported JN.1 cases in India has emerged from states like Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha. Kerala, in particular, witnessed 292 fresh cases of COVID-19 and reported three fatalities on Wednesday, as per data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. With these additions, Kerala’s active case count has risen to 2,041, and the total number of COVID-related deaths in the state over the last three years now stands at a staggering 72,056.

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2. Union Health Minister’s Statement: During a comprehensive review meeting on COVID-19, Union Health Minister Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya emphasized the importance of a unified approach. He highlighted the necessity for all government departments to collaborate seamlessly. Dr. Mandaviya stressed the significance of maintaining vigilance without succumbing to panic. He also advocated for regular mock drills in hospitals to ensure preparedness, suggested a quarterly frequency. Furthermore, he assured states of the central government’s unwavering support, emphasising that health concerns should remain above political considerations.

Sources : Mint

By Soujanya Das Roy

From Kolkata

Reporting for True To Life

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