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HomeHealth and WellnessCovid-19 surge: What should those above 60 and with co-morbidities do?

Covid-19 surge: What should those above 60 and with co-morbidities do?

With more cases of JN.1, the newest sub-variant of COVID-19, being reported from various states, and an uptick of respiratory illnesses because of winter temperatures, doctors are insisting on a preventive healthcare routine for the elderly and co-morbid.

Dr Kiran G Kulirankal, Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Amrita Hospital, says while JN.1 doesn’t seem to be a dangerous variant as of now, dipping temperatures and flu season could be a risk factor for the elderly and co-morbid patients.

With the new sub-variant circulating, what would you advise elderly and co-morbid patients?

In the context of JN.1, elderly individuals above 60, and those with co-morbid conditions, such as patients on immunosuppressants, suffering malignancy, chronic kidney and liver diseases, as well as pregnant women, should exercise heightened caution. The risks associated with this sub-variant include the potential for increased mortality and morbidity. That’s why this group should prioritise preventive measures such as consistent mask-wearing and strict adherence to hand hygiene as well as social distancing guidelines. They should avoid crowded places and protect themselves with N95 masks should their presence be mandatory at a gathering. The vulnerable group should not embrace others, not mix their clothes or share personal effects like towels and bed linen with others.

Also Read | WHO tags JN.1 strain as ‘variant of interest’ as Covid cases rise

So far, the new sub-variant has not exhibited any signs of severe pneumonia. During this flu season, testing will be required to distinguish Covid from the ongoing influenza epidemic. It’s important that the anti-viral treatment be given at the earliest.

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With colder temperatures and flu alongside, how risky is the situation for the elderly and co-morbid patients?

The combination of colder temperatures and the concurrent flu season elevates the risk for the elderly and individuals with co-morbid conditions. Given their heightened susceptibility to severe outcomes from Covid-19, the added complications from the flu make the situation more precarious. It is crucial for these individuals to take extra precautions, including regular testing to distinguish between COVID-19 and influenza, and to seek prompt medical attention if symptoms arise.

Will past vaccinations, which were aimed against the ancestral strain, continue to be protective?

Past vaccination, along with past infection, may prevent the disease from progressing to its severe form. However, the elderly and the immunocompromised need to be cautious as an infection may complicate their already compromised health parameters and may lead to increased mortality and morbidity.

Also Read | COVID-19 JN.1 variant: Do you need booster shots to fight surge?

Will they be needing a fourth vaccine?

There are no guidelines yet for a fourth vaccine. Staying up to date with mandated vaccinations, including influenza, are crucial components of their routine. Seeking guidance from doctors for personalized advice is highly recommended.

Are there any unknown co-morbid conditions that can be aggravated by the latest bout of infection?

Ongoing research is essential to identify any emerging risk factors. Staying informed through updates from healthcare authorities and continuous research will help uncover any potential unknown co-morbid conditions that may raise the risk of Covid infection.

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