The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has raised concerns as it reveals the detection of over 244 cases of the JN.1.11 sub-variant in India. This variant, which Thailand Medical News had previously warned about, is alarming due to its multiple mutations associated with immune evasion. The lack of transparency in COVID-19 data reporting is evident as India has not been uploading all genomic sequences on global platforms like GISAID. This raises questions about the accuracy of COVID-19 data reporting in the country.
The JN.1.11 variant is part of a larger group of sub-lineages within the JN.1 lineage, including JN.1.2, JN.1.4, and JN.2.5. These variants have demonstrated increased transmissibility, potential immune evasion, and pathogenicity. Research suggests that the mutations in JN.1.11 could lead to cytokine storms and lung tissue damage. The detection of 244 sequences from hospitalized patients indicates a silent spread of severe COVID-19 infections in India, and it is expected that the numbers will rise significantly in the coming weeks. Reports from rural parts of the country and social media point to a rise in severe pneumonia outbreaks, potentially caused by JN.1.11 infections.
Given the detection of new variants, it is crucial for countries to maintain constant vigilance. The INSACOG Centre has advised states and Union Territories to remain cautious. The increasing number of JN.1.11 cases emphasizes the need for robust genomic surveillance and transparent data sharing. These measures are essential to effectively track and respond to emerging variants. The global community must closely monitor the spread of the JN.1.11 variant, especially in countries that have significant Indian tourist arrivals. This is necessary to prevent further transmission and mitigate the potential impact on public health.