'FLiRT': What do we know about the new Covid variant that is spreading in the US? These are its symptoms

Although the coronavirus pandemic seems very far away in 2024, a new variant of Covid-19 has become the leading cause of infections in the United States. We refer to the KP.2 variantbetter known as FLiRT, which already represents more than a quarter of the cases registered in the neighboring country. What are its symptoms and how does it affect the body? This is what we know so far.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that since the beginning of this year, they have been monitoring the behavior of variants KP.2 and KP.1.1 of SARS-CoV-2, also known as FLiRT variantsso called due to the technical names of their mutations.

As the latest data shows, FLiRT variants are already the dominant strain in the United States and includes almost the 28 percent of the tests that have been sequenced.

Both KP.2 and KP.1.1 are sublineages of the JN.1 lineage of the Omicron variant, which predominated for about three years. Because the FLiRT variants are relatively new, there is no conclusive data yet to show that the latest vaccines will provide effective protection against them.

What is known so far about the FLiRT variants?

In late March of this year, the CDC reported that the KP.2 variant caused about 4 percent of infections in the United States, while its parent strain, JN.1, caused more than 50 percent of infections in the United States. that moment. However, the situation changed at the beginning of May, when the KP.2 mutation it already accounted for about 25 percent of infections, surpassing JN.1 as the dominant variant.

Although health authorities clarified that FLiRTs “are not causing an increase in Covid-19 infections or more severe illnesses than other variants,” scientists at Johns Hopkins University anticipated that these variants could cause an increase in cases this summer.

“It is certainly possible. FLiRT variants would be high on my list of viruses that could cause another wave of infections in the United States”, stated Andy Pekosz, professor of Microbiology and Molecular Immunology, in an article from the aforementioned university. And he added:

“Although these waves are becoming smaller, they continue to have the greatest impact on our susceptible populations: the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those with other secondary medical conditions.”

What are the symptoms of the FLiRT variant?

As for the symptomsscientists assure that they do not see nothing new or different with these variants. In addition, they highlighted that milder illnesses are increasingly being seen, not so much because the virus has weakened, but because immunity is much stronger now.

“After years of vaccines and infections, the majority of the population is better able to fight an infection without as much worry about serious illness,” Pekosz explained.

In turn, the incubation period remains the same: five or more days before the first symptoms develop, although they can also appear earlier.

The expert details that, in general terms, the symptoms of FLiRT variants are similar to those caused by JN.1, that is:

  • Sore throat.
  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Nausea.
  • Threw up.
  • Diarrhea.