FLiRT COVID-19 variants could cause infections this summer (includes video story)

Scientists have identified a group of COVID variants called “FLiRT,” raising new concerns about a potential summer wave of infections amid increased travel and gatherings.

The KP.2 variant has rapidly become the dominant strain in the U.S., accounting for around 28% of COVID-19 cases. Symptoms include coughing, fever, headaches and muscle aches. However, Dr. Priya Sampathkumar from the Mayo Clinic notes that while these variants may be more transmissible, they don’t appear to cause more severe illness.

“The WHO recommended that the JN.1 strain be the basis of the vaccine,” said Sampathkumar. “But now in the U.S., they’re reconsidering whether that would be the case or whether they would need to focus on this newly mutated strain instead.”

To protect against these variants, basic measures like handwashing, masking in crowded places and staying home when sick remain crucial. Additionally, Johns Hopkins experts suggest that antiviral medications are still effective against these variants, particularly for those at high risk of severe illness.

Dennisse Diaz is a senior majoring in Digital Broadcasting Media and minoring in entrepreneurship. She is originally from Venezuela. Since her arrival to the United States in 2017, she has never stopped pursuing her dreams of becoming a news anchor, correspondent, or investigative reporter. She is passionate about traveling, photography, culture, responsible knowledge, marketing, and content creation.