January 11, 2024

New COVID-19 surge led by JN.1 variant raises alarm amid ‘tripledemic,’ recent CDC data

Editor's Note

Many people have reportedly been experiencing cold-like symptoms this winter, which have often been attributed to “some bug”; however, there’s a strong chance these symptoms were due to a new surge of COVID-19, Wired January 10 reports.

There’s a new, large global surge in daily COVID-19 infections currently happening—the biggest since the Omicron variant. In the US alone, an estimated 2 million new infections per day are being reported. Such a trend is worrying experts, considering how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently released data showing there were 1,614 deaths from COVID-19 for the week ending December 9, a January 10 ABC News article reports.

According to the CDC, the last 4 weeks of complete data show an average of 1,488 weekly COVID-19-related deaths. For comparison, “there were 163 weekly deaths from the flu” for the same week ending December 9, notes the ABC News article.

This new global surge is being caused by the new JN.1 variant, which emerged in September and quickly became dominant, notes the Wired article. Despite the high infection rates, however, hospitalization rates are lower compared to the previous year. Still, concern over an increased number of hospitalizations during the winter flu season remains top of mind for experts. The rise in COVID-19 cases is unfortunately coinciding with the seasonal prevalence of RSV and flu, and this triple threat—dubbed by some as a ‘tripledemic’—poses a significant risk, especially for those who might contract multiple viruses in succession.

All dominant COVID-19 variants since 2021 have descended from Omicron. While the 2023–2024 booster is tailored for the XBB.1.5 strain, preliminary analyses reportedly suggest the new vaccines are still effective against JN.1. However, a significant portion of the US population has not received the latest booster shot. As COVID-19 infections seem to be on the rise again, experts are advising the public to assess their personal risks and take appropriate precautions, including vaccination, masking, and preventive testing.

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