With the rise of COVID-19 sub-variant JN.1 in multiple countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified it as a “variant of interest” on Tuesday, distinguishing it from its ancestor BA.2.86, commonly known as Pirola.
“Due to its rapidly increasing spread, WHO is classifying the variant JN.1 as a separate variant of interest (VOI) from the parent lineage BA.2.86,” said a statement from the global health body. It was previously considered to be a VOI as a part of Pirola sub-lineages.
WHO maintained that there was no evidence to suggest any additional public health risk posed by the variant. However, the global health body said that with the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere, the variant, along with other viral and bacterial infections, could increase the number of respiratory infections in many countries.
India has so far recorded at least one case of JN.1 from Kerala and around 15 cases from Goa.
The World Health Organization said that existing vaccines will continue to provide protection against severe disease and death due to JN.1, as also other COVID-19 variants that are circulating