FLiRT: New Covid Variant Raises Concerns In US

The other FLiRT variant, KP 1.1 is also circulating in the US.

The other FLiRT variant, KP 1.1 is also circulating in the US.

According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the nickname FLiRT is based on the technical names for their mutations.

A new family of COVID-19 variants, FLiRT, is spreading fast in the United States. This variant of new COVID-19 variants is from the Omicron JN.1 lineage. These are the KP.2 and KP.1.1 mutations, considered to be more infectious than the previous Omicron variants.

According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), KP.2-related diseases are rapidly increasing. The other FLiRT variant, KP 1.1, is also circulating in the US.

Why FLiRT?

According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the name FLiRT is derived from the technical designations for their mutations. The World Health Organization (WHO) classed it as a severe form and recommended cautious monitoring.

Currently, two FLiRT variants have been found in the United States: KP.2 and KP.1.1.


According to reports, the symptoms of FLiRT include a sore throat, cough, congestion, fatigue, tiredness, headache, body pain, fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, and a possible loss of taste and smell.

“The variants KP.2 and KP 1.1 include new alterations that make them more infectious than prior Omicron variants. Symptoms similar to previous variations include fever, cough, and weariness. However, their increased transmission rate necessitates extreme vigilance,” says Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director of Internal Medicine at Medanta, Gurugram.

The intensity of these symptoms is largely determined by underlying health issues and the current immunity level of a person.

Is it dangerous?

The recent expansion in the United States is increasing concerns about a new wave of illnesses this summer. Unvaccinated individuals and those with compromised immunity are more vulnerable to these mutations.

As per reports, this variant spreads easily through respiratory droplets, posing risks to all, especially to the unvaccinated and those with compromised immunity.

FLiRT variations have not been discovered in India yet. Moreover, in the US, no significant rise in hospitalisations has been reported.

Recent reports suggest it is a small surge, and there is no need to panic. One should stay vigilant and ensure enhanced testing, targeted vaccinations, and continued adherence to preventive measures are necessary to prevent transmission. One should adhere to COVID-friendly protocols, i.e., washing hands properly and wearing masks.

People of specific ages, such as youngsters and the elderly, should pay close attention.

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