The highly transmissible JN.1, from the lineage of Omicron, is the predominant COVID-19 variant, causing 62 percent of SAR-CoV-2 cases in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates.

The CDC’s latest estimates released on Friday predicted a range of 55 percent to 68 percent of cases — an increase from the last data of 39 percent to 50 percent of cases in the US before Christmas.

Nearly 34,800 new Covid-19 hospital admissions were recorded last week — a 20.4 percent spike since the last data update. Deaths have also increased by 12.5 percent. Wastewater surveillance data also shows that COVID-19 viral levels in the US are “very high.”

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However, the CDC maintains that currently there is no evidence that JN.1 causes more severe disease. The agency also noted that current vaccines are expected to increase protection against JN.1.

The CDC data also increases levels of respiratory illnesses with fever, cough, and other symptoms.

The JN.1 variant, classified as a variant of interest (VOI) by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to its rapid spread, is currently present in about 41 countries. It was first detected in Luxembourg in August.

JN.1 is similar to its parent BA.2.86 but has an additional mutation (L455S) in the spike protein, which has immune-evasion properties.

The CDC said that JN.1’s continued growth suggests that the variant is either more transmissible or better at evading our immune systems than other circulating variants.

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According to the CDC, JN.1 has also been detected in travelers, wastewater, and most regions around the globe.