The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday classified the JN.1 coronavirus strain as a “variant of interest”, but said it did not pose much threat to public health.
“Based on the available evidence, the additional global public health risk posed by JN.1 is currently evaluated as low,” WHO said.
JN.1 was previously classified as a variant of interest as a part of its parent lineage BA.2.86.
The United Nations agency said current vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and death from JN.1 and other circulating variants of the COVID-19 virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month said that the subvariant JN.1 makes up about an estimated 15% to 29% of cases in the United States as of Dec. 8, according to the agency’s latest projections.
It added that currently there is no evidence that JN.1 presents an increased risk to public health relative to other currently circulating variants and an updated shot could keep Americans protected against the variant.
JN.1 was first detected in the US in September, according to the CDC.
Last week, China detected seven infections of the COVID subvariant.