Understanding FLiRT: Emerging COVID strain, prompting scrutiny of risk factors

Despite exhibiting a distinct set of symptoms and potentially carrying an elevated risk for some groups, the most effective strategy to combat the emerging COVID variant FLiRT remains adherence to well-established safety measures and keeping up-to-date with vaccination efforts.

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The relentless battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has persisted for nearly two years, appears to be far from over as a new viral variant dubbed "FLiRT" has emerged in the United States, causing alarm among health authorities. As the current state of the pandemic continues to evolve and fears of another wave loom, it's only natural for individuals to question the potential danger posed by this newfound variant. This article delves into the nature of FLiRT, its associated symptoms, and the level of risk it presents.

What is FLiRT?

FLiRT, short for "Flu-like Respiratory Tract," is a recently identified variant of the COVID-19 virus that has been spreading across the United States. According to a report from the Hindustan Times, "FLiRT is a very interesting nickname for a group of Covid variants that have been identified in the US. These are descendants of the JN. 1 variant that came in last December. They carry some fresh mutations that seem to be allowing it to spread easily. Its symptoms are not significantly different from the previously known Covid variants."

Symptoms of FLiRT

One of the primary concerns surrounding this new variant is how its symptoms differ from the original COVID-19 strain. Experts suggest that FLiRT exhibits a combination of flu-like symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms, making it more challenging to identify. Common symptoms reported by patients infected with FLiRT include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and loss of taste or smell.

Is FLiRT Dangerous?

"We are observing an emerging group of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants, collectively called "FLiRT," that are rapidly spreading across the United States. Among these, the KP.2 strain has become the dominant form, responsible for around 25% of recent COVID-19 cases. Early indicators show that the FLiRT variants, especially KP.2, have an increased ability to transmit from person to person compared to previous Omicron subvariants," stated Dr. Nikhil Modi, Senior Consultant at the Department of Respiratory, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

"There are also signs that they may have developed the capability to evade immunity from prior infections and vaccinations, although the extent of this immune evasion is still under study. While FLiRT has not yet been detected in India, the potential for these highly transmissible variants to spread across the country's densely populated areas is a significant worry from a health standpoint. we must remain cautious and closely track the evolving situation, while also emphasizing the importance of continued preventive measures, such as vaccination, masking, and following respiratory hygiene practices," he further explained.

Conclusion: Vigilance Remains Key

The emergence of FLiRT in the United States is undoubtedly a cause for concern, but it's crucial not to panic. As we continue to navigate through this pandemic, it is essential to stay informed, prioritize safety measures, and support one another during these challenging times. Collective efforts and responsible behavior will be paramount in mitigating the potential impact of this new viral strain.