The JN.1 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to be more contagious than other members of the Omicron family, driving indicators of infection levels and COVID-19 illness. Even so, this currently circulating variant seems to produce a more mild illness with less need for medical attention. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reported in JAMA Network shows emergency department visits for COVID-19 are down 21% this year, and the percentage of deaths attributed to COVID-19 was 3.6% for the week ending December 30, 2023, compared with 5.2% in the same week of 2022.
Roll up your sleeves: Because most humans have been vaccinated or infected or both, the SARS-CoV-2 variants will keep on coming as they cleverly mutate their way across the globe. New variants will inspire vaccine updates, which clinical experts believe are currently proving helpful in reducing the severity of COVID-19 illness—even in the JN.1 era.