FliRT variant of COVID-19

The COVID-19 cycle spins again with new variants in circulation. KP.2 and KP1.1, dubbed ‘FLiRT’ variants, are descendants of the Omicron JN.1 which spread globally over the winter last year.

The downstream variants are linked to new cases and a small surge in hospitalisation in the U.S. FLiRT cases have also soared in the U.K., South Korea, India and New Zealand, renewing fears of a fresh COVID-19 wave.

The variants appear to outstrip their ancestor and other Omicron variants. KP.2, the more dominant strain of the two, in particular, is believed to leap past immunity built up from vaccines and previous infections.

However, the periodic COVID-19 spikes are routine and to be expected as “COVID-19 will continue to morph into, not an endemic, but a cyclical disease.

The FLiRT variants reframe COVID-19 management as a longer affair, one that demands sustained surveillance, customising precautions and ensuring universal protection for the vulnerable.