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2 new COVID variants called ‘FLiRT’ are making the rounds: Here are the symptoms

Patriot-News - 5/9/2024

A new set of COVID-19 variants are spreading in the U.S. after being detected in wastewater surveillance, according to tracking by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Given the name “FLiRT” after their mutations, those variants are now the dominant strains in the nation. From April 14 through April 27, one of the variants, called KP.2, is responsible for 25% of all current cases in the United States.

This variant overtook the JN.1 variant, which was the predominant strain the U.S. before this change.

Another FLiRT variant that’s circulating, KP1.1, is responsible for about 7.5% of COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC.

Per Today, the KP.2 and KP1.1 variants are believed to be highly transmissible, where current vaccines and immunity from prior COVID-19 infection only provides partial protection, according to what experts are saying.

The CDC says these changes in viruses are expected.

“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,” the CDC said.

Additionally, Megan L. Ranney, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, told WebMD that FLiRT has some concerning features, including the fact that it has the ability to cause changes in the spike protein, which plays a role in helping COVID-19 colonize the body and make people sick.

When it comes to symptoms, they’re similar to those caused by JN.1 strain. So be sure to look out for:

According to the CDC, only 22.6 of adults reported having received an updated 2023-24 COVID-19 vaccine since September 2023. Data also reveals that vaccination increased based on age and were highest among older adults 75 and older.

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