LONDON - A new Covid variant known as JN.1 – or ‘Juno’ – has seen a massive spike in over the Christmas period.

First detected in France and the US, Juno has now made its way to the UK. In the past month, the new variant has accounted for 47.5 percent of all UK Covid cases, with this week’s figures indicating it has risen to nearly 70 percent.

First tracked as part of the BA.2.86 ‘Pirola’ strain, Juno has now been classified as a subvariant by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and a variant of interest in its own right. Both strains are descendants of Omicron.

In their latest update, WHO maintained that JN.1 poses relatively low risk to public health, especially in well-vaccinated countries such as the UK. However, the rapid spread of the strain may indicate that it is more transmissable than previous variants.
What are the symptoms of the JN.1 variant?

The Juno variant should produce similar symptoms to most other Covid variants, according to the CDC. Their most recent list of Covid symptoms include:

Fever or chills


Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing


Muscle or body aches


New loss of taste or smell

Sore throat

Congestion or runny nose

Nausea or vomiting


What is the JN.1 variant?

The JN.1 variant comes from the variant BA.2.68 and is yet another Omicron variant, said Thomas Russo, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

JN.1 differs from BA.2.68 because it has an extra spike protein, which researchers believe makes it more infectious than its parents, Mr Russo told The Independent. But that increased infectiousness does not mean it causes more serious disease than its fellow variants, he said.

“It’s important for people to realize we don’t think it’s causing any more serious disease,” Mr Russo said.

While the WHO has classified JN.1 as a “variant of interest,” the organization said it poses a low additional public health risk.

“Considering the available, yet limited evidence, the additional public health risk posed by JN.1 is currently evaluated as low at the global level,” the organization wrote on 19 December.