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Coronavirus Outbreak

What Are The FLiRT COVID Variants And Are They More Contagious?

According to Johns Hopkins University, the FLiRT variants, which also include KP.2’s “parental” lineage JN.1, have three key mutations on their spike protein

What Are The FLiRT COVID Variants And Are They More Contagious?
The moniker FLiRT is an acronym for the locations of the mutations the variants share on the virus' spike protein

New York: The so-called FLiRT variants of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that cause COVID-19 have been the dominant forms of the virus circulating this year globally, according to the World Health Organization.

The moniker FLiRT is an acronym for the locations of the mutations the variants share on the virus’ spike protein. One of them, called KP.2, has become the most commonly circulating variant in the United States over the past month, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also Read: 290 Cases Of COVID-19 Variant KP.2, 34 Cases Of KP.1 Detected In India: INSACOG Data

Here is what you need to know about FLiRT.


The FLiRT variants, which also include KP.2’s “parental” lineage JN.1, have three key mutations on their spike protein that could help them evade antibodies, according to Johns Hopkins University.


Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, New York, and a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America said he has not seen evidence of an uptick in disease or hospitalizations, based on the data he tracks and experience with his own patients.

“There have been some significant changes in the variants, but I think in recent times it’s not been as important, probably because of the immunity many, many people already have” from prior illness and vaccination.

CDC data suggests that COVID-related hospitalizations have trended downwards in recent weeks and the number of patients in emergency departments who have tested positive for COVID has been about flat for the past month.

Data suggests that COVID rates are also down year-over-year. The rate of COVID hospitalizations is less than half than a year earlier, and the amount of the antiviral Paxlovid currently being prescribed for COVID-19 is down around 60% from last year, according to analyst notes.


The current vaccines should still have some benefit against the new variants, Glatt said.

Since 2022, health regulators have asked vaccine makers to design new versions of the COVID-19 vaccines to better target circulating variants. Last month, Europe’s regulator said vaccine makers should target the JN.1 variant. U.S. experts and regulators will meet to discuss vaccine design on June 5 after having postponed the meeting from May 16 in order to have more time to “obtain surveillance data and other information.”

Makers of vaccines based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology – Pfizer with partner BioNTech, and Moderna – say they are waiting for the June 5 meeting before settling on the design of their next vaccines.

Also Read: KP.2 Covid Variant Appears More Transmissible, But Not Virulent: Doctors

Novavax, which makes a more traditional protein-based vaccine that takes longer to manufacture, has begun producing a shot targeting JN.1 consistent with recommendations from European regulators.

(Reporting by Michael Erman; editing by Caroline Humer and Bill Berkrot)

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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