June 21, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Another mutation of COVID-19 – could FLiRT cause a new outbreak

KP.1.1 and KP.2 are new coronavirus variants belonging to the FLiRT group. Scientists are closely monitoring developments, fearing an increase in the number of coronavirus patients in the summer season.

After all, COVID-19 still exists and continues to mutate, and it is not yet clear whether the new variants from the FLiRT group are capable of causing an outbreak. writes The Washington Post. KP.2 has already become the dominant form of coronavirus in the United States – 28% of all infections occur with this variant.

About the features of viruses from the “FLiRT” group told at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Scientists remind that viruses like the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus often mutate to make it harder for antibodies in the human body to recognize them. Mutations in the FLiRT variants occurred in certain positions of the spike protein, which the virus uses to enter human cells.

FLiRT includes all variants of KP and JN, with the exception of JN.1 – it is their “ancestor”. The new variants cause the same symptoms as previous versions of the virus – fever, chills, cough and muscle aches. According to Andy Pekosh, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, people who have recovered from JN.1 should have fairly strong immunity from the FLiRT group – their mutations are not so dramatic.

COVID-19 vaccines updated to fight Omicron should also produce antibodies that can protect against KP.2 in some way. But laboratory studies on this matter have so far been carried out.

Pekosch notes that due to the spread of “FLiRT” variants, there could be an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in the summer. First of all, it will pose a threat to people at risk. The immunologist says: “Although the waves of disease are now becoming smaller, they still have a big impact on vulnerable groups of the population: the elderly, people with weakened immune systems and those with other secondary medical conditions – they remain at highest risk.”

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