July 19, 2024

Health & Fitness

FLiRT Covid variants: No need for panic or extra caution, say experts

IANS | May 06, 2024 07:11 PM

As the new Covid-19 variants, nicknamed FLiRT, have raised fresh concerns, health experts on Monday said that there is no need for panic or extra caution.

FLiRT is a new set of Covid variants, from the lineage of the highly transmissible and immune system evading Omicron.

The FLiRT variants, which majorly include KP.1.1, and KP.2, are named based on the technical names for their mutations, one of which includes the letters "F" and "L", and another of which includes the letters "R" and "T".

According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, KP.2 accounted for about one in four or 25 per cent of new sequenced cases in the country in the last weeks of April.

"Overall, there is no need for panic or extra caution, nor is there a requirement for any specific medications. Improving immunity through a healthy lifestyle will be crucial, " Dr Swapnil M. Khadake, HOD & Consultant Critical Care, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, told IANS.

The symptoms of the new variants seem to be more or less similar to previous ones. They include a sore throat, runny nose, congestion, tiredness, fever (with or without chills), headache, muscle pain, and sometimes loss of taste or smell, the doctor said.

The rate of hospitalisation is expected to be lower, with outpatient management being sufficient for most cases.

"Ward hospitalisation may be necessary in some instances, but ICU admissions should be rare. Existing vaccinations should provide coverage against this variant to some extent. Precautions such as wearing masks in public places and practising hand hygiene can significantly reduce transmission, ” Dr Khadake said.

While the variants are likely to be "more transmissible and defy immunity as compared to previous strains", they are unlikely to produce severe symptoms in the form of pneumonia”, Dr Dhiren Gupta, Senior Consultant, Dept of Paediatric Pulmonology and Allergy, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.

"Only patients who are having severe uncontrolled comorbidities or chronic lung diseases should be a little precautious about getting infected as it can worsen their existing symptoms, " he added.

As per a recent study, not peer-reviewed yet, "KP.2 has spread rapidly, and its variant frequency reached 20 per cent in the UK as of early April 2024, suggesting a potential to become the predominant lineage globally".

Dr Ravindra Gupta, Head of Department, Internal Medicine, C.K. Birla Hospital, Gurugram told IANS that the variant has no distinct symptoms from the Omicron variant. Further, "no serious illness has been reported so far from FLiRT, and it too early to say it could be deadly and could spread fast across the world. Not dangerous so far, " he added.

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