• Friday, July 12, 2024
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FLiRT Covid variant: What we know about the new coronavirus strain

FLiRT Covid variant

New variants of Covid-19 have started to spread in the UK, as leading doctors over there have started to issue warnings over a summer outbreak.

British medical experts say events such as festivals, combined with a lack of mask-wearing and social distancing, make perfect conditions for the new variants to spread quickly in the warm months.

Dr Mariyam Malik, an NHS and private GP said: “Increased travel and big events such as festivals often result in crowded settings where the virus can spread more easily, and there are no longer any legal restrictions like wearing masks or social distancing. The FLiRT variant has specific changes in its spike protein that might make it spread more easily and dodge immunity from past infections or vaccines”.

“Similarly, the LB.1 variant has mutations that help it spread and possibly weaken the protection we get from previous immunity, making these variants different from earlier versions of the virus.”

According to reports, hospital admissions have gone up by 24 per cent in the previous week in the UK, and many people attributed the increase to the new variant KP.3.

Together with other variants, the new variant, which is a subvariant of the highly contagious Omicron strain, accounts for more than 69 per cent of cases in the US. By June 8, 33.1 per cent of Covid illnesses in the US were caused by KP.3.

Here is what we know so far about this new variant.

What is the new variant?

The new variant has been called FLiRT after the technical name for its mutation and it is FLiRT that is behind the KP.3, KP.2 and KP.1.1 variants.

Dr Thomas Russo of the University of Buffalo told Prevention: “These are part of the Omicron family. They’re like siblings.” All of the new variants are believed to be able to be picked up on lateral flow tests.

Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, muscle or body aches, shortness of breath, headache, and a runny nose.

Has FLiRT been found in the UK?

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported that the rate of Covid hospital admissions rose by 24 per cent in the week ending on Sunday (June 23), from 2.67 per 100,000 people to 3.31 per 100,000 people, with many people attributing this to the new variety KP.3.

The statistics, according to Warwick University virologist Professor Lawrence Young, should act as a “wake-up call” for anyone who believes the virus has disappeared.

Talking to i newspaper, he said: “The virus hasn’t gone away and is certainly not a seasonal infection. A combination of new, more infectious virus variants and waning immunity is very likely contributing to these increased levels of infection.

“The hope is that this will not result in a big wave of infection but we need to keep a close watch.” There are currently no Covid rules put in place for the UK; however, if you do test positive the government suggests you stay at home.

What are the symptoms of FLiRT Covid?

There is nothing to distinguish symptoms of FLiRT from other Covid infections, Dr William Schaffner told Prevention, and patients do not generally find out what variant they have of the virus.

What are common Covid symptoms generally?

There are many symptoms, but according to the NHS, the most common are:

  1. A high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  2. a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste shortness of breath feeling tired
  3. an aching body a headache a sore throat a blocked or runny nose loss of appetite diarrhoea feeling sick or being sick

How long does long Covid last?

Doctors generally recommend self-isolating and using over-the-counter treatments if you are experiencing these symptoms. The strain is believed to last a similar time to that of previous strains.

Most people with Covid-19 feel better within a few days or weeks of their first symptoms and make a full recovery within 12 weeks, the NHS said.

Other effects can last longer: these can include shortness of breath, dizziness and joint aches or pins and needles.

The length of time someone typically suffers from long Covid is not known due to how recent the virus is but, according to News Medical Life Sciences, the symptoms do improve after two years.