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A growing COVID-19 variant has taken off this holiday season

A growing COVID-19 variant has taken off this holiday season

What do we know about the new COVID-19 variant?

As we head into the holiday season, there's a new development with COVID-19 to keep an eye on. Scientists are closely following the JN.1 variant, which is spreading quickly. According to the latest figures from the CDC, this variant now makes up more than one-fifth of all COVID cases. Their recent reports show that JN.1 is behind 15% to 29% of current infections, a significant jump from the earlier estimate of 8%.

The CDC mentions that the rise in JN.1 cases might mean it's easier to catch and can sneak past our immune defenses more effectively. Unfortunately, hospitalizations and deaths, which help us gauge the spread of COVID-19, are still high. This isn't surprising, as we often see more respiratory illnesses during the winter, especially when everyone's gathering indoors for the holidays.

How to protect yourself?

According to Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tennessee, recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible. Ideally, people should get their shot before they go shopping, attend religious services, travel to visit family and visit older relatives who are likelier to get more sick from a COVID-19 infection. For those who are elderly, have chronic medical conditions, or are pregnant, he recommends masking in densely populated indoor areas as another layer of protection.

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