Professor shares whether you should be worried about the new Covid variants

Dr Nighat discusses symptoms of new Covid strain

Alarms have been raised about new Covid variants circulating around the world. spoke to a professor about how worried we should be about these strains, known as HV.1 and JN.1.

HV.1 is an Omicron spin-off that has become the most dominant strain in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, explained that HV.1 seems to be “more transmissible”, but it hasn’t shown the capability of evading vaccine protection or causing more serious illness.

The other new variant, JN.1, has recently been found in the UK, US, Iceland, Portugal and Spain.

READ MORE New Covid variants HV.1 and JN.1 now in circulation in US and UK

The strain is a descendant of the Pirola variant and has been described as much more immune evasive than its “parents”.

While CDC officials explained they are still “learning” about JN.1, it seems to carry mutations that might help it avoid detection by the immune system, according to Dr Papadopoulos.

The public health expert said: “The emergence of HV.1 and JN.1 variants, which can be considered as the ‘grandchildren’ of the Omicron variant, is a reminder of both the evolving nature of Covid and our need to remain vigilant.

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“The symptoms appear to be similar to previous variants, and while vigilance is key, the data does not suggest a cause for alarm.”

However, the professor noted that the JN.1 variant has shown a rapid growth rate in countries like Iceland, where it accounts for a substantial number of infections. “This is particularly concerning so it needs to be particularly closely monitored,” he added.

The good news is that existing protective measures like vaccines should still work against the spin-offs.

Dr Papadopoulos added: “The effectiveness of existing public health measures, vaccines, and antivirals are so far keeping the threat of these variants under control.

“The fact that we are not seeing a corresponding surge in hospitalisations or case severity is reassuring and indicative that our current strategies can adapt to these changes.

“It is crucial to stay informed and proactive, taking full advantage of vaccines, especially for vulnerable populations.”

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