Pakistan's Premier Multilingual News Agency

Aga Khan University hospital detects JN.1 variant of COVID-19 in Karachi

Karachi, 11 January, 2024 (GNP): In a recent development, the Aga Khan University Hospital’s (AKUH) lab announced the identification of the JN.1 variant of COVID-19 in six out of 15 samples obtained from Karachi. Classified as a Variant of Interest (VOI) by the World Health Organization (WHO), JN.1 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant and has gained attention for its prevalence in the United States.

During a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Zaka Ashraf, Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board Managing Committee, highlighted a substantial increase in the value of both live-streaming and broadcast rights for the 2024 and 2025 editions of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

The Chairman reported a remarkable 113 percent surge in the value of live-streaming rights and a significant 45 percent increase in the value of broadcast rights.

Dr. Imran Nisar, the lead investigator at AKUH’s Infectious Disease Research Laboratory, shared insights into the sequencing process.

Random testing of individuals returning to the country, especially at airports, revealed positive cases of COVID-19. The samples, including 15 in total, were sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH), Dow University’s laboratories, and AKUH’s clinical labs. AKUH’s lab sequenced the positive cases, identifying the JN.1 variant.

JN.1, a sub-lineage of Omicron, is known for its high transmissibility. While it primarily causes mild symptoms similar to a common cold, concerns are raised about its potential impact on vaccine efficacy due to immune evasion. Dr. Nisar noted that the variant is not more severe than previous ones, but its increased transmissibility poses challenges.

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The detection of the JN.1 variant underscores the ongoing evolution of the COVID-19 virus. Viruses like COVID-19 mutate constantly, a natural characteristic that results from replication. While most mutations are inconsequential, some can impact virus characteristics, including transmissibility and severity.

Health authorities emphasize the importance of preventive measures against the JN.1 variant. Standard strategies, such as social distancing, mask-wearing, proper sanitation, and hygiene, remain crucial in controlling the spread of the variant.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has issued an advisory to provinces, providing information about the mutating strain of the virus. The advisory aims to alert and facilitate health authorities and stakeholders, encouraging timely preventive and control measures.