New ‘FLiRT’ COVID-19 Variants Are Responsible For 25% Of Infections

With warm weather finally within reach, a new set of COVID-19 variants, dubbed FLiRT, have been discovered in wastewater surveillance, the Department of Health said. Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.

On Wednesday, the CDC said FLiRT variants were showing up in wastewater samples. They found that from April 14 to 27, FLiRT accounted for about 25% of cases in the United States and was responsible for one in four Covid cases in the United States, according to the CDC.

With its rapid infection rate within two weeks, it is now the dominant variant in the United States, ahead of JN.1, the variant that spread around the world throughout the winter, research shows from the CDC.

So, what are these new FLiRT variants and what do their symptoms look like? Ahead, everything you need to know about the new COVID-19 variant called FLiRT and how to protect yourself from infection.

What are the FLiRT variants?

The FLiRT variants, KP.2 and KP.1.1, are part of the Omicron family. Specifically, they are descendants of JN.1.11.1, a byproduct of JN.1, the most common variant until these new ones appeared, according to Prevention.

Since they are new, there isn’t much information yet on how these variants work. However, the research revealed some changes in the spike protein of KP.2 compared to JN.1, according to Prevention. Aren’t you aware of all this scientific jargon? The Spike protein is how SARS-CoV-2 infects you, it latches onto your cells and, well, you get sick.

What are the symptoms of FLiRT of COVID-19?

The CDC says symptoms of FLiRT COVID-19 include:

It is important to note that as new variants of COVID-19 spread, symptoms may vary between people.

How do I know if my COVID-19 infection is the FLiRT variant?

Unfortunately, a COVID-19 test won’t tell you exactly which variant is responsible for your infection, since it only detects the presence of the virus. However, genomic sequencing will look at the genetic code of the virus to help determine which variant caused your infection, according to Nebraska Med.

How should I protect myself against the FLiRT variant of COVID-19?

Staying up to date with your booster shots may offer some protection against this new variant, according to Nebraska Med. The pub says other ways to protect yourself against the FLiRT variant may look like:

  • Opt for outdoor activities rather than indoors whenever possible

  • Avoid high-risk environments

  • Wash your hands often

  • Avoid close contact with others

  • Wearing a mask in public places

  • Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19

Those who are more likely to get sick during a spring or summer surge could benefit from the new monoclonal antibody Pemgarda, a new treatment that was granted emergency use by the FDA in March, according to WebMD. This is a preventative measure for people considered moderately to severely immunocompromised.

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