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New FLiRT variant could spark summer coronavirus wave in California

New FLiRT variant could spark summer coronavirus wave in California
New FLiRT variant could spark summer coronavirus wave in California

 


Variants of the FLiRT coronavirus known as KP.1.1 and KP.2 recently overtook JN.1 as the dominant Omicron variant in the United States.

Variants of the FLiRT coronavirus known as KP.1.1 and KP.2 recently overtook JN.1 as the dominant Omicron variant in the United States.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Introducing a new set coronavirus The variant, known colloquially as FLiRT, has raised concerns about a long period of calm and a potential summer surge in coronavirus cases. relatively mild winter.

This variant, known as KP.1.1 and KP.2, recently overtook JN.1 as the predominant Omicron derivative in the United States. Latest data From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitalizations and deaths due to the new coronavirus are occurring in California and other parts of the United States. reached the lowest point Since the pandemic began, mutations in the FLiRT variant could potentially make it more contagious to people, especially as immunity gained from previous illness or vaccination weakens over time.

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“While we are unlikely to see a full-blown surge in cases this summer because of the new variants, many more people will become ill,” he said. Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UCSF. “The increased transmissibility of these new variants and more people gathering indoors to escape the heat and travel create a perfect storm for wavelets.”

The CDC said it is tracking variants to better understand their potential impact. public healththe symptoms they may cause, or the ability to evade protection from current vaccines and treatments.

• Coronavirus Tracking: Check out the Chronicle Bay Area Wastewater Tracker Get the latest data on coronavirus in your area.

At the same time, the agency suspended the following requirements for states: Report hospitalization due to new coronavirus infection Last month, it phased out one of the most reliable metrics for tracking the pandemic over the past four years. Instead, the agency relies only on: wastewater trackingTest positivity rate and death toll to monitor coronavirus.

“We are less able to predict rising tides and proactively advise people about when to get vaccinated or take other precautions,” Chin-Hong said. However, he also noted that we are now at a point where we can manage COVID-19 more effectively and it no longer poses a “catastrophic” risk to the health system.

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Here's what you need to know about the FLiRT variants and the current state of the pandemic.

What are the FLiRT variants?

The FLiRT variants (KP.2 and KP.1.1) are derivatives of JN.1.11.1, which are descendants of the JN.1 variant that caused most cases this winter. They are all part of the omicron family. New stocks include Two additional mutations Its alphabetical notation (F and R) is the origin of its nickname. Scientists speculate that this mutation may make the variant more contagious.

However, the CDC notes that “while KP.2 is proportionately the most predominant variant, it is not causing an increase in infections due to low transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”

Chin-Hong said the virus is rapidly evolving, with new variants emerging as dominant about every six months, much faster than other viruses such as influenza or the common cold. I pointed out.

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Will vaccines be effective against new variants?

of Reformulated COVID-19 vaccine The virus, introduced in September, was designed to target the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, which was dominant in early 2023. Although less effective against the new strain, it still protects against severe illness and death.However, only Approximately 22% of adults The number of people who have received the latest vaccination is significantly lower than previous coronavirus vaccinations, leaving many others more susceptible to infection.

“Currently, there are still COVID-19 patients in the hospital,” Chin-Hong said. “I always ask, 'Did you get the latest COVID-19 vaccine that came out in the fall?'” Almost 100% of the people I see say, “I didn't get the new vaccine, but I didn't before. “I have received many vaccines.” ”

Food and Drug Administration advisers are expected to convene in early June to decide on the formulation of a fall vaccine intended to target JN.1 and its descendants.

What are the symptoms of the FLiRT variant?

CDC is monitoring infections caused by KP.2 and KP.1.1. Early data suggests that it causes symptoms similar to those caused by JN.1 and typically appears 2 to 14 days after infection. These symptoms include:

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• New loss of taste or smell

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

• Gastrointestinal disorders

Chin-Hong said he has seen an increase in cases of diarrhea, which is not unprecedented but “kind of strange.” However, he said no new symptoms or more severe disease associated with the FLiRT variant are expected.

Do I need to be tested to see if I have been exposed to COVID-19?

Health officials continue to recommend the use of at-home COVID-19 tests, despite the possibility of lower susceptibility to the latest strains of the virus. The CDC recommends getting tested at home five days after exposure to COVID-19 if you have symptoms or even if you are asymptomatic.People are encouraged to test yourself If the first result is negative, the test will take several days.

Should we wear more masks or take other precautions?

Although not currently required, the CDC We recommend wearing a high quality mask In public places when respiratory viruses, not just SARS-CoV-2, are circulating in the community. Additionally, the agency recommends that people wear masks when interacting with people who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill.

Chin-Hong encourages people to get the latest COVID-19 vaccine along with their annual fall flu shot. He suggests timing this before the expected winter surge, typically before the holiday season, to optimize protection. However, older adults and people with weakened immune systems can get a booster shot now and follow up with another shot in the fall.

Minister Aydin Leach: [email protected]

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2/ http://www.sfchronicle.com/health/article/flirt-variants-summer-covid-wave-19445209.php

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