In wake of Covid-19 JN.1 Variant, CDC pushes booster shots anyway.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is trying to gin up angst over the latest covid variant.
The World Health Organization classified the variant, JN.1, as a variant of interest on Dec. 19, a step below variant-of-concern status. The variant could cause an increase in cases amid a busy season for other infections, the WHO said, but isn’t expected to increase strain on health systems more than the other circulating Covid-19 strains.
JN.1 emerged in August, according to the WHO, and is an offshoot of the original Omicron variant. It is a descendant of the variant BA.2.86, nicknamed “Pirola,” which caused some concern among scientists but didn’t end up taking off.
Compared with BA.2.86, JN.1 has a single mutation difference in the spike protein, the WHO said.
“It looks like the mutation in the spike protein probably gives it some advantage,” said Emily Smith, an epidemiologist and infectious-disease expert at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
The current director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pushing the covid booster shots it the wake of the usual seasonal rise in respiratory infections.
“Covid is causing the most hospitalizations and deaths of all the viruses, but it’s not seeming to be more severe than what we were seeing last year at this time, which is good news,” Cohen said.
However, the JN.1 variant — which accounts for around 21% of Covid cases nationally — could accelerate the virus’ spread. Cohen said the variant appears to be more transmissible than other circulating strains, though vaccines should still offer good protection.
“That’s exactly why we want folks to get the updated Covid vaccine, because it does map to the changes that we’re seeing in the virus,” she said.
However, people have noticed the booster shots do not work as advertised. And the fact there is no discernible seasonal pattern to infections is also not helping the case for an “annual preventative shot,” as the pharmaceutical companies had planned.
One challenge facing the fall booster campaign is the lack of a seasonal pattern for Covid. With the flu, there’s a predictable seasonal pattern and getting a shot in the fall can protect the vulnerable through the worst of the winter wave. By contrast, Covid continues to show surges of activity all year.
But the bigger problem is the quality of the new Covid boosters. Past boosters have offered weak, fast-waning protection against infection. And there’s little evidence that they prevent transmission. The CDC is still arguing that they prevent spread of the virus, but some respected infectious disease experts call this incorrect. Some experts also argue there’s no evidence that giving young people multiple boosters does anything to lower their odds of infecting grandma or grandpa.
…There’s another problem facing Covid booster campaigns: the fast evolution of the virus and the stubborn tendency of our immune systems to insist on fighting the original variant, since that’s what we were first vaccinated against.
This stubborn tendency is called imprinting, and may explain why so many fully vaccinated, multiple-boosted people have gotten omicron not just once but sometimes two or three times. It also explains data showing that the bivalent booster offered in 2022, with components of the initial strain and omicron, didn’t produce any more omicron-neutralizing antibodies than the original booster.
This comedy clip is the perfect way to end this post.
“COVID Booster Not Working?!?” 😂🤣 | KT 584 ft. Leonarda Jonie pic.twitter.com/XCVkZcwqig
— ComedyClipsCentral (@ComedyClipsCent) December 12, 2023
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