Piola JN.1 it is the new Covid variant that is spreading decisively from Luxembourg towards Great Britain and the rest of Europe. It is a mutation of the virus which is increasingly confused with seasonal flu and which, given the temperatures and continuous changes in the winter weeks, is spreading so much, leading many to worry again about coronavirus infections.
No alarm, at least for the moment, from the WHO, which however wants to maintain a high state of alert to avoid quickly finding itself in situations that are difficult to sustain. But what is JN.1 and how can you recognize it?
JN.1, the new Covid variant
As mentioned, the Covid variant JN.1 comes from Luxembourg and is spreading from Great Britain to the rest of Europe. With distinctive traits similar to the variants that hit hardest at the beginning of the pandemic, namely Alpha and Beta, it has a mutation in its spike protein that allows it to easily infect cells, even managing to do so with some success.
The numbers say it. At the moment in Italy the main widespread variant is Erisdescendant of Omicron which represents almost 60% of cases, followed by other subvariants of the same Omicron, namely JG.3, XBB.15 (Kraken), XBB 1.9, HV.1 and BA.2.86 (Pirola). Among these we therefore also include JN.1, which in Great Britain the UK Health Security Agency sub-categorized last December 4th due to the mutation of the spike protein characterizing it and the growing prevalence in UK and international data. And as of 4 December there were 302 sequenced cases of JN.1 in the UK and 3,618 globally, but with a strong upward trend.
“The share of BA.2.86 and its descendant lineages, including JN.1, is constantly increasing. As of December 2, BA.2.86 and its descendant lineages, including JN.1, represented 17% of the sequences available in Gisaid, more than half of which were JN.1,” WHO said.
The Organization said that JN.1 “has 36 amino acid substitutions compared to XBB.1.5”, including in “key antigenic sites in the Spike protein”. In particular, the JN1 version, “compared to BA.2.86, has an additional substitution in the Spike protein.”
How to recognize JN.1
But how can we recognize this new variant? The symptoms, to tell the truth, would always be the same. In practice, it would generally cause the same symptoms as Omicron or Pirola, i.e fever and shivers, cough, tirednessshortness of breath or difficulty breathing, ache muscular, headache, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion and diarrhoea.
The various mutations of JN.1, including some previously unseen from the Alpha and Beta variants in 2020 and 2021, could mean that JN.1 escapes the immune system more easily, being able to replicate more quickly. According to what has been highlighted to date by experts, JN.1 however would not generate symptoms that are more serious or fundamentally different than those triggered by other Covid variants.
Pay attention to variations
Once again, the emphasis was placed on the mutations of Covid-19 Fabrizio Pregliascomedical director of the Galeazzi Hospital in Milan, who highlighted that “in this phase the SARS-CoV-2 virus has a short cyclical nature in bringing out variants: we see new ones on average every 4 months, because there is instability intrinsic nature of the virus in replicating”.
“While the flu is more like a growing mountain, Covid contagion tends to rise more slowly. Let’s expect a peak probably for Christmas, but which could repeat itself in the new year” the expert’s warning.