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Home » New COVID variants entering the USA — all about FLiRT

New COVID variants entering the USA — all about FLiRT


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are tracking a new group of COVID variants entering the USA with the family name FLiRT. The name derives from the types of mutations in the variants.

As I have done with previous variants, such as JN.1, I’ll provide a quick update on the variants and what we might expect.

coronavirus COVID variants FLiRT
Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

The FLiRT COVID variants

The FLiRT COVID variants are now the dominant strains found in the USA. The KP.2 variant accounts for about 25% of all COVID infections in the USA. Another FLiRT variant, KP.1.1, accounts for about 7.5% of all COVID infections. The previous dominant strain, JN.1, has been overtaken by the KP.2 strain.

According to the CDC, the FLiRT variants – KP.2 and KP.1.1 – appear to be highly transmissible, that is, they can pass from individual to individual rather easily. Furthermore, because the mutations occurred on the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, experts are concerned that the most recent COVID vaccines may not provide good protection.

According to the CDC:

Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some changes and mutations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines. As the virus spreads, it may change and become harder to stop.

What are the symptoms of the newest COVID variants?

The symptoms appear to be similar to those caused by JN.1, which includes:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever or chills
  • New loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

COVID patients have reported a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe, typically appearing 2-14 days after exposure.

Summary

These FLiRT COVID variants may be a bit more concerning to public health officials because they could be more transmissible plus vaccines and prior infection may not provide good protection against it.

The CDC is tracking this closely because we might need another update to the COVID vaccines to avoid this particular variant.

Michael Simpson

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