IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


10th May, 2024 Health


Source: Hindu

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • The emergence of new COVID-19 variants like KP.2 and KP1.1, collectively referred to as the FLiRT variants, has reignited concerns about the ongoing pandemic.


FLiRT Variants

  • Origins: KP.2 and KP1.1 are descendants of the Omicron JN.1 variant, which gained global attention during the winter last year.
  • Spread: These variants have been detected in various countries, including the U.S., U.K., South Korea, New Zealand, and India.
  • Increased Cases: Their emergence has coincided with a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in certain regions, sparking fears of a new wave of infections.

Characteristics of FLiRT Variants:

  • Mutations: Both KP.2 and KP1.1 carry two new spike mutations, distinguishing them from their ancestor and other Omicron variants.
  • Invasive Properties: These mutations confer greater invasive properties to the virus, potentially leading to increased transmission and breakthrough infections.
  • Immune Evasion: Preliminary evidence suggests that KP.2, in particular, exhibits enhanced immune resistance, surpassing immunity conferred by vaccines and previous infections.

Impact and Management

  • The immune evasive properties of FLiRT variants pose challenges to existing vaccines and immunity derived from prior infections.
  • There are discussions about updating COVID-19 vaccines to target the new variant JN.1, aiming to enhance protection against emerging strains.
  • Vigilant surveillance, customized precautions, and universal vaccination remain crucial in mitigating the spread of these variants and preventing severe illnesses.




Q.  The emergence of FLiRT variants underscores the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of ongoing surveillance, research, and public health measures to address emerging challenges and protect populations worldwide. Discuss. (150 words)