Here’s What We Know About FLiRT, The New COVID Variant

COVID-19’s newest and latest strain — the FLiRT variant — has quite the moniker.

We’ve heard of all sorts of strange names for diseases but COVID-19’s latest strain name takes the cake! Known as the FLiRT variant, this form of COVID-19 — according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health — appears to take longer to infect us.

Although its constant mutation (or changing of its structure) may make us less prone to infection, the moment it gets the combination right, the infection can hit us with an array of problems: fever, nausea, coughing, etc.

Also known as the KP.2 Variant, here’s what we know about the FLiRT COVID-19 variant.

1. It’s a possible mutation from Omicron.

The thing about viruses is that they’re neither dead nor alive. While they don’t behave like bacteria, they do have survival instincts and do so by changing their forms. Viruses have something called a “spike protein,” which is what attaches to our cells and infects us with the disease.

But what prevents them from binding is the vaccine which “teaches” our cells how to “block” or stop these proteins from binding to our cells.

With the vaccines capable of fighting off the Alpha, Beta, and Delta strains, our bodies eventually developed defenses against Omicron by using the material from the vaccine. However, Omicron, to survive, began changing its form. If it can’t bind in one way, it’ll find another way by switching the positions of their “spike.”

Hence, its name “FLiRT” or “FLiP,” which just tells immunologists and virologists where the spike protein is. Think of the Omicron variant as a toxic ex-partner who just can’t take no for an answer.

2. There are no new COVID symptoms but it does present like a typical flu case.

Thankfully, it has no surprise symptoms, which means we probably already have an idea of how to keep a person with COVID-19 comfortable. The FLiRT COVID variant presents with the usual fever, headaches, nausea, chills, muscle aches, mild loss of taste and smell, coughs, and an ever-annoying runny nose.

While taking the anti-virals (after confirming with a COVID test and a doctor’s appointment, of course!), some parents suggest drinking ginger tea to soothe the throat and clear the nose.

However, this doesn’t mean we can go around the house or to the office working. No matter what deliverable we have, stay at home! We’d be more irresponsible powering things out when affected by COVID-19 to finish our tasks because we have no idea if our colleagues have immunocompromised housemates.

3. Getting COVID-19 prior can help… a bit.

Being exposed to the JN.1 strain of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the past, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “should provide pretty strong protection against all the FLiRT variants.” Because the FLiRT variant and the JN.1 strain of COVID-19 Omicron look almost the same, our bodies will immediately “fight” the virus the moment it enters our bodies.

Unfortunately, being infected with the older variants like the JN.1 strain may not offer as strong a protection but it is still a defense all the same. The JN.1 strain of COVID-19 recently came to the Philippines last year towards the end of 2023 with the Department of Health (DOH) declaring 18 confirmed cases.

4. Nobody knows where the FLiRT COVID variant originally came from.

According to Yale Medicine, the FLiRT COVID variant was first found by the CDC in the wastewater of the US. However, others report that the strain came from India, saying that it showed up in early January where it was only known as strain KP.2.

But one thing’s for sure: it spreads fast, as it’s now the dominant strain in the United States and has made its way through China, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and even the Philippines.

Fortunately, there have only been a small handful of cases according to the Department of Health (DOH). However, this doesn’t mean we should be complacent. Staying clean and eating healthy should make us less prone to infection. Trust us when we say that prevention is better than cure!

5. COVID-19 tests confirm that we can’t spread it to people!

When there was still no vaccine or cure, we feared that extra line on our COVID-19 tests. But in the case of the FLiRT variant, the COVID-19 tests are there to confirm if we’re contagious or not. That little line confirms that the virus is still “active” in our bodies. Meaning, it’s still infecting us and probably looking for more people to infect.

A negative COVID-19 test means that the virus is either dormant or absorbed as material into our bodies. What some scientists (and more paranoid parents) do is perform the test three times to make sure that their COVID-19 tests are still working and if they’re accurate.

parent putting mask on kid to protect them from FLiRT, the new COVID variant

COVID is the last thing we should FLiRT with!

Although there are vaccines, not everyone has had immediate access to the prevention. At the same time, some existing conditions like allergies, asthma, other chronic diseases, old age, and even a bad lifestyle can make us more prone to getting infected with the new variant. The effects may be small now but don’t wait for the COVID FLiRT variant to spread or become fatal.

Nobody wants to stay caged in their houses again!

How to deal with COVID or flu-like symptoms?

Caught The Flu Bug? Here’s What To Do!
Prevent COVID-19 in our Families with Proper Mouth Hygiene!
FACT CHECK: Myths about COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids

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