FLiRT Covid Variant: Symptoms, Prevention, and Spread

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FLiRT Covid Variant: Symptoms, Prevention, and Spread

A new variant of COVID-19 called KP.2 has emerged in several parts of countries including India. Earlier the cases of people infected with this variant have been found in the US and now the cases of this variant are increasing in India. The reports state that this time, we might be facing a group of mutants which have been collectively called “FLiRT”. The cases of FLiRT Covid variants have been recorded in India. Meanwhile, it is spreading faster in the United States.  As per the report shared by a media outlet, the variants that are the cause of one-fourth Covid cases in the US are KP.2 and KP.1.1 under the new COVID variant. 

The reports of genomic surveillance data stating that FLiRT has been linked to increasing cases of Coronavirus in the US, South Korea and the United Kingdom., has been spreading in India since November 2023. At least 250 KP.2 sequences have been reported so far by INSACOG, the genome sequencing consortium of the country. The rising cases of KP.2 variant are causing concern among people and they are looking to know what exactly it is, its symptoms and how to prevent it. It is worth noting that COVID-19 is one of the lethal diseases that has taken the lives of millions of people. Estimates suggest that more than 3 million lost their lives in 2020 due to this epidemic and its effects are still causing serious health issues. 

COVID-19 is constantly emerging with its new variants and causing serious health issues; FLirt is one of them. Speaking of KP.2, it is a descendant of the JN.1 variant of the virus. This variant is also a sub-variant of the Omicron lineage with new mutations. The nickname of KP.2, FLirt is based on the letters that show 2 immune escape mutations that permit the virus to evade antibodies. To understand more briefly about KP.2, a media outlet has talked to a Genomic Scientist identified as Dr Vinod Scaria. Dr Scaria states: “These two mutations on the spike protein disrupt the major sites on the spike protein where antibodies bind and neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These mutations allow the virus to escape antibodies.”

Cases of FLiRT in India

If we look at the no. of cases 91 cases have been registered so far in Maharashtra. The initial cases of the new Covid-19 Omicron sub-variant KP.2 were recorded in January and by April, the variant was already a dominant strain in that region. The report states that cases of FLiRT have been identified in Amravati, Latur, Pune, Sanglione, Thane, Solapur, Aurangabad, Nashik, and Ahmednagar. Why it is called a FLiRT variant is because this time it is a group of mutants rather than a single mutant. Multiple reports are stating that KP.2 and KP.1.1 are among the variants and presently they are responsible for one-fourth of COVID cases in the US. 

Another doctor, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly stated during an interview with a media outlet regarding the concern of another COVID wave due to the new variants that “I don’t want to say that we already know everything about KP.2. But at this time, I’m not seeing any major indications of anything ominous.” Dr. Ziyad is the chief of research and development at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Healthcare System. 

Symptoms Of FLiRT

As per the publication, symptoms identified in the FLiRT variants are:

  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose
  • Body Aches
  • Coughing 
  • Fever
  • Head
  • Fatigue
  • Chest Congestion

In some serious cases, people are facing shortness of breath. 

How To Prevent From FLiRT Variants?

  • In order to prevent the new variants, you need to start wearing masks in crowded places
  •  Wash your hands frequently to maintain hygiene
  • Try to avoid physical contact
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