FLiRT— a new COVID-19 variant, is on surge in US

# Experts warned that the variety is transmissible.

JNS: The United   States is experiencing a surge in a new COVID-19 variant known as FLiRT, raising concerns about a potential summer wave of infections.

The FLiRT variants, including KP.2, have emerged as a dominant strain in the country, surpassing the previously dominant Omicron sub-variant, JN.1. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), KP.2 now accounts for one in four infections nationwide.

Following KP.2, JN.1 remains the next most common variant, comprising 22% of cases. Another FLiRT variant, KP.1.1, is also circulating but is less prevalent, accounting for about 7.5% of infections nationwide.

These new variants possess two additional mutations that differentiate them from JN.1, potentially giving them an advantage in transmission. Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease expert at Yale School of Public Health, notes that while KP.2 is highly transmissible, it is still early to determine its full impact.

Virologist Andrew Pekosz from Johns Hopkins University explains that the rapid emergence of these variants is typical for viruses like influenza, but the speed of this development is concerning.

Despite the rise in FLiRT variants, experts are cautiously optimistic. Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, notes that while the new variant appears to be highly transmissible, current vaccination efforts are still effective against it.

Experts emphasize the need for continued monitoring and vaccination to combat the spread of the FLiRT variants and prevent a potential surge in cases.

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