What is India’s new Covid variant ‘FLiRT’ and how to stay safe from it

    What is India’s new Covid variant ‘FLiRT’ and how to stay safe from it

    KP.2 is a descendent of the Omicron JN.1 strain and is surpassing JN.1 in countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Covid cases of FLiRT have been spreading quickly in the US and have also been detected in India.

    Ninety-one cases of the new Covid subvariant KP.2 were detected in Maharashtra recently, following which experts allayed concerns about the variant causing issues in Karnataka.

    According to TOI, the variant was found as a dominant strain in April, after the first cases were identified in January. More such cases have also been detected in Thane, Solapur, Pune, Amravati, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Latur and Sanglione.

    According to TOI, Chief of Research and Development at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Healthcare System Dr Ziyad Al-Aly told NYT, “I don’t want to say that we already know everything about KP.2. But at this time, I’m not seeing any major indications of anything ominous.”

    Citing US CDC records, the publication reported that until March, the variants constituted only one per cent of the Covid cases, but after that the cover of the variant reached up to over one quarter of the total cases. Having three substitutions in the S protein, the KP.2 variant seems to be a descendant of the JN.1.

    According to a Japanese study cited by TOI, KP.2 has a reproductive number which is 1.22-, 1.32- and 1.26- times, which is higher than JN.1, but in the infectivity rate, JN.1 beats KP.2.

    According to TOI, the other variant under the FLiRT, KP.1.1 has not been widespread, as the US CDC data shows that 28 per cent of the Covid cases are due to KP.2 and only 7.1 per cent due to KP.1.1, of the total cases.

    Allegedly KP.2 exceeds JN.1 in eluding immunity and is also slightly more infectious than the latter.

    According to TOI, Dr David Ho who is a virologist at Columbia University, believes that KP.2 might infect those who have received the most updated vaccine as well.

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