New Covid variant JN.1 – how likely are you to get it this Christmas?

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic a number of variants of the disease have emerged.

Some come and go without making much difference to infection rates, while others can cause them to skyrocket.

Omicron is a Covid strain that led to a sharp uptick in cases in the UK, for example.

And in recent weeks health officials have warned of a new variant, known as JN.1.

JN.1 is a descendant of BA.2.86 – or the Pirola strain – which was itself descended from Omicron.

It has already been detected in the UK as well as the US, Iceland, Portugal and Spain.

With this in mind an expert spoke exclusively with about what to expect from JN.1.

In terms of whether we are likely to be struck down with this strain over Christmas, pharmacist at Chemist Click – Abbas Kanani – said we are still waiting to see how transmissible it will be.

“Questions are being raised as to whether the new Covid sub-variant JN.1 could spur a new wave of infections as we start to socialise more in the run-up to Christmas,” he said.

“UK cases have been spotted as the UK Health Security Agency recently urged Brits to get Covid jabs following expectations flu and coronavirus infections will increase this winter.

“JN.1 is a derivative of BA.2.86, so there is uncertainty as to whether it may be more transmissible and reveal different symptoms.

“The vaccine is still likely to be protective and has been proven to work against JN.1’s parent BA.2.86.”


Abbas warned of the following potential symptoms:

  • A high temperature or shivering (chills)
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • An aching body
  • A headache
  • A sore throat
  • A blocked or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick or being sick.

He shared what to do if you experience symptoms. “Official guidance advises that you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you or your child have symptoms and either have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work, school, childcare, or do your normal activities,” Abbas said.

“You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.

“If you do test positive, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days after the day you took your test if you are 18 years old or over.”

How to protect yourself

Abbas added: “Get vaccinated against COVID-19, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day, especially after you cough, sneeze or blow your nose, and before you eat or handle food.

“Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and encourage children to do this.

“Regularly clean surfaces you touch often such as door knobs, and in shared spaces, such as kitchens or bathrooms.

“You could also consider wearing a face covering that fits snugly against your face and has more than one layer if you’re in close contact with other people, or in crowded places.”

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