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Breaking News: FLiRT Variant of COVID-19 Spreading Rapidly in the US – What You Need to Know

The latest warning from US health authorities is that a new so-called FLiRT variant of the new coronavirus has emerged and is spreading rapidly across the United States, triggering widespread concern. According to the latest data disclosed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main variants spreading in the United States today are the “FLiRT” family headed by KP.2, with KP.2 accounting for 25% of infections.

Currently, the CDC is monitoring infections caused by new variants of FLiRT. U.S. federal health officials are planning a fall vaccination campaign, and advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet in early June to determine the formula for the upcoming fall vaccine, which is expected to target JN.1 and its descendants.

It is worth noting that the new variant KP.2 of the new coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries. In early May this year, the World Health Organization listed the KP.2 subvariant as a variant under surveillance. The World Health Organization said it will continue to closely monitor the evolution of the virus.

New strain strikes

According to the latest data disclosed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main new coronavirus variant circulating in the United States today is the “FLiRT” family headed by KP.2: KP.2’s infection rate has reached 25%.

This means that the new coronavirus is still mutating. A CDC spokesperson warned that viruses are constantly changing through mutations, and sometimes these mutations can lead to new variants of the virus. Some changes and mutations make the virus spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines. As the virus spreads, it may change and become more difficult to stop.

The CDC said it is tracking the variants to better understand their potential impact on public health, including the symptoms they may cause or their ability to evade protection from current vaccines and treatments.

In April this year, American medical expert Eric Topol warned that FLiRT represented by KP.2 has a more obvious transmission advantage and may trigger a new wave of COVID-19 epidemics.

It is understood that FLiRT variants are named after their mutations and include two main strains: KP.2 and KP.1.11. Among them, KP.2 is the descendant of the JN.1 variant and has surpassed JN.1 to become the dominant strain in the United States.

The FLiRT variants have two additional mutations, and scientists believe that KP.2 and KP.1.1 may be better able to evade the immune system due to mutations in their spike proteins.

Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick in the UK, warned that KP.2 could cause a wave of infections in the summer. Early evidence suggests KP.2 appears to be more contagious than previous substrains, but it’s too early to tell whether it is more dangerous.

William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said that compared with past viral mutations, the new mutations are subvariants of histones that contain mutations in the spike protein, making them more contagious.

Schaffner said the spike protein mutations mean vaccines and previously acquired immunity may not protect a person as completely as they did against earlier strains, but laboratory tests show there is still substantial protection against severe disease.

“We now consider it one of the major seasonal severe respiratory infections. It is now endemic and we are all learning how to deal with it in a regular way. It (coronavirus) is not going away,” he added explain.

Emergency action

Currently, CDC is monitoring infections caused by KP.2 and KP.1.1. Early data suggests that they produce similar symptoms to JN.1, typically appearing 2 to 14 days after infection, with symptoms primarily affecting the upper respiratory tract and including sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, fever, headache, and loss of taste and smell. .

Dr. Robert Murphy, a U.S. infectious disease expert, said that while symptoms and severity appear to be roughly the same as previous strains of the coronavirus, the new variant appears to be more contagious.

Murphy urged the public to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, especially those who are at higher risk of serious complications from the virus. While most people have some immunity from vaccination or previous infection with the coronavirus, Murphy noted that “with COVID-19, immunity wanes over time.”

So far, this variant has not been shown to cause more severe disease, and vaccines remain effective.

U.S. federal health officials are planning a fall vaccination campaign, and advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet in early June to finalize the formula for the upcoming fall vaccine so experts can get more data on circulating variants, which are expected to Targeted JN.1 and its descendants.

Officials hope the latest vaccines will target the dominant variant, but that may be a moving target. The real world is not a laboratory, and as vaccines are produced and distributed, a new dominant strain may emerge — something that also happens with the annual flu vaccine.

Separately, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently stated that it is launching clinical trials to investigate potential treatments for long-term symptoms after COVID-19 infection, including sleep disorders, exercise intolerance, and worsening of symptoms after physical or mental exertion. The new trial will enroll about 1,660 people at 50 research sites and complements six earlier NIH studies studying the new coronavirus to promote recovery programs.

Many countries are in emergency

It is worth noting that the new variant of the new coronavirus, FLiRT, is spreading rapidly in Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries.

On May 9, local time, Global News reported that KP.2 quickly became dominant in Canada. As of April 28, national data showed that KP.2 accounted for 26.6% of all COVID-19 cases in Canada, surpassing other JN. 1 subvariant.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a Canadian infectious disease expert, said the latest mutation suggests it may be better at evading people’s immunity, which could be a sign of an imminent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, the FLiRT variant also appears to be gaining dominance in the UK. Data from Cov Spectrum suggests that the combination of KP.2 and KP.1.1 accounts for 40% of UK cases.

The UK Health and Safety Agency (UKHSA) has not yet commented on FLiRT, but the rise in cases in the UK may indicate it is the new dominant variant.

In early May this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed the KP.2 subvariant as a variant under surveillance.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, previously said, “KP.2 is a descendant lineage of JN.1, which is the dominant strain globally, and there are additional mutations in the KP.2 spike protein. There are others. Emerging variants, JN.1, continue to evolve and we will continue to see these variants spread.”

The World Health Organization said it will continue to closely monitor the evolution of the virus.

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