FLiRT Variants

As the traditional respiratory virus season winds down in the United States, a new group of COVID-19 variant, nicknamed “FLiRT,” is emerging. Two new COVID variant, called ‘FLiRT’ in the United States. Among these variants, KP.2 has become the dominant strain, overtaking JN.1, which caused a significant surge in COVID cases during the winter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), KP.2 now accounts for one in four infections nationwide. KP.2’s rapid rise has sparked concerns about a potential summer wave. In the two-week period ending April 27, KP.2’s share of infections rose to nearly 25%, up from about 10% during the previous two-week period ending on April 13. The spread of KP.2 and other FLiRT variants has raised questions about their transmissibility and the continued effectiveness of vaccines.

Will the FLiRT Variants Cause a Summer Surge?

Experts are closely monitoring the FLiRT variants, especially KP.2, to understand whether they will cause a significant summer surge. While it’s too early to make definitive predictions, some factors suggest that the variants may lead to an uptick in COVID-19 cases.Dr. Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University, noted that the high transmissibility of KP.2 indicates it has an advantage over other variants. However, the current low case numbers and hospitalizations suggest that the country is in a relatively stable phase.

“Two new COVID variant, called ‘FLiRT’ in the United States.” Experts like Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University Medical Center believe that KP.2 may not cause as significant a surge as previous variants due to existing immunity from vaccines and prior infections. While KP.2 has mutations that may help it evade immunity, vaccines still provide some protection against severe disease and hospitalization.

What are the symptoms of FLiRT variants ?

Symptoms of the FLiRT variants, such as KP.2, are similar to those of other Omicron strains. These include a sore throat, cough, fatigue, congestion, runny nose, headache, muscle aches, fever or chills, and, in some cases, a loss of taste or smell. The severity of symptoms often depends on individual health factors and immunity.

Do vaccines protect against FLiRT variants ?

Vaccines continue to offer some protection against the new FLiRT variants, but their effectiveness may be slightly reduced due to mutations. Despite this, vaccines play a crucial role in preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Health experts recommend staying up to date with two new COVID-19 vaccines, especially for those at higher risk. To protect against the new FLiRT variants, the CDC suggests following standard COVID-19 prevention strategies, including wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces, practicing good hand hygiene, improving ventilation, and testing for COVID-19 when symptoms arise.

Overall, while there are concerns about the potential impact of the FLiRT variants, public health experts advise caution without panic, emphasizing the importance of ongoing monitoring and adhering to safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of two new COVID-19 varient.

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