Now Reading
‘JN.1 Not a Matter of Concern but a Matter of Caution’: Shahid Jameel on COVID Cases

‘JN.1 Not a Matter of Concern but a Matter of Caution’: Shahid Jameel on COVID Cases

Karan Thapar and Suhel Seth. Photo: The Wire

Professor Shahid Jameel said that the recent surge of the JN.1 strain of the coronavirus, a sub-lineage of BA.2.86, is “not a matter of concern but a matter of caution” adding, however, that its “a little more infectious” than earlier strains of Omicron because it has an additional mutation. Professor Jameel, presently a senior fellow at Green Templeton College at Oxford University, says there is “no evidence of more severe illness” caused by JN.1. In fact, he added, “flu is far more dangerous than JN.1”.

He pointed out that JN.1 is simply a sub-lineage of the earlier Omicron strain and, therefore, it is not a “quantum jump”, as he put it.

However, in a 30-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Jameel emphasized that people with existing comorbidities as well as the elderly must take sensible precautions. He advised them to wear masks in crowded places to ensure they do not get infected.

Because of the winter cold and air pollution, a particular factor of concern in Northern India, the need for the elderly and the medically vulnerable to be cautious was emphasised by Jameel. Winter cold and air pollution also reduce immunity and make people generally more vulnerable to the possibility of catching JN.1.

However, he emphasised that the vaccines India has taken, mainly Covishield and Covaxin, as well as the naturally built immunity from earlier infections, should be sufficient to protect the majority of people.

H pointedly added that those who can afford to buy boosters – they are no longer available freely from the government – and are medically vulnerable or elderly should consider taking one at this stage. He advised people a heterologous booster i.e, a different vaccine from the primary two doses. For those who have taken Covishield, he Covovax and Corbevax as boosters. For people who have taken Covaxin, a third or fourth Covaxin would be okay. But Jameel specifically said that a fourth Covishield (after two vaccines and a booster) would not be advisable and could create problems.

Jameel also speaks at some length about the present functioning of INSACOG and whether it needs to improve its functioning and what is wrong with the way it’s presently functioning.

Finally, he explains that apparently the high incidence of COVID-19 in Kerala is simply a reflection of the fact that Kerala does more testing than any other state and is more honest and faster in revealing the results. There is absolutely no reason to believe that other states do not have an equally high incidence, if not a higher incidence, because their populations are considerably bigger. Jameel said that if anything, we should emulate Kerala as an example.

Scroll To Top