As far as experts know, JN.1 doesn’t seem to cause serious illness in most people, although even a mild case can make you feel “pretty bad for three or four days,” Schaffner said. Symptoms of a JN.1 infection are similar to those caused by previous Covid variants, including cough, fever, body aches and fatigue.
To protect against infections and serious illnesses, experts continue to recommend wearing masks, improving indoor ventilation whenever possible, staying home when sick, and getting vaccinated against Covid.
Preliminary research shows that the updated COVID-19 vaccines released in September produce effective antibodies against JN.1, which is related, albeit distantly, to the XBB.1.5 variant, for which the vaccines were designed. People may not develop as many antibodies against JN.1 as they do against XBB.1.5, but the levels should still reduce the risk.
“Among those who were recently infected or received a booster dose, the cross-protection against JN.1 should be pretty decent, our laboratory studies show,” said David Ho, a virologist at Columbia University who directed the investigation on the JN.1 and Covid vaccines, which was published as a preprint article in early December. Rapid testing also remains a valuable tool, and the CDC says tests already on the market work well to detect the JN.1 variant.
There are signs that COVID-19 cases are on the rise again. The week of December 10, there were just under 26,000 coronavirus-related hospitalizations, a 10% increase from the nearly 23,000 the previous week. But the numbers for Covid-related hospitalizations are still well below those at the peak of the first Omicron wave in January 2022 and, so far, are only half of what they were during the peak of the “tripledemic » from last winter, when cases of COVID-19, influenza and RSV appeared at the same time.