July 24, 2024

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“FLiRT” is on the rise: New corona strains are spreading fast – what you need to know

“FLiRT” is on the rise: New corona strains are spreading fast – what you need to know
New corona strains are currently spreading in Switzerland. (thumbnail)

IMAGO/Christian Ohde

Corona has reared its head again. Two new varieties are currently spreading. Risks.

No time? Blue news in a nutshell for you

  • Two new types of corona are currently circulating.
  • The number is also increasing in Switzerland.
  • The BAG states that there is no evidence that KP.2 and KP.3 cause particularly severe disease progression.

Corona is not yet a thing of the past. Two new siblings, KP.2 and KP.3, are currently attracting scientific attention. These variants, also known as “FLiRT” variants, can evade immunity generated by previous infections and vaccines.attentionยป is reported.

Symptoms of KP.2 and KP.3 infection are similar to classic corona symptoms. These include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle pain, breathing problems, loss of smell and taste, fatigue and gastrointestinal problems.

Both variants differ from JN.1 only by some changes in the subsequences of omicron-derived JN.1 and the spike protein.

Viral mutations are not uncommon

The name “FLiRT” comes from specific mutations that occur in these variants, such as the F456L mutation. According to “Focus”, it is located in the receptor of the spike protein that the coronavirus uses to infect human cells. The spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor on human cells and allows the virus to transport its genetic material into the cell, where it continues to multiply.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Germany reports that KP.2 and KP.3 accounted for nearly 21 percent of new infections in the 23rd calendar week. These variants are already dominating the United States, where they have accounted for the largest share of infections in previous weeks.

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Although viral mutations are not uncommon, their ability to evade immune defenses can cause severe disease again.

When asked by Blue News, as the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) said, an increase in infections due to new types is also observed in Switzerland. “Like many European countries, we have noticed an increase in the KP.2 variant in Switzerland in recent weeks,” a spokesperson said.

Increases the risk of infection

But: There is currently no evidence that KP.2 and KP.3 cause particularly severe disease progression. “A low risk to public health is expected, KP.2 has not yet shown more severe courses than other Omicron types,” BAG said when asked by Blue News.

die Waste water monitoring Low levels show a slightly increasing trend in viral loads. An increase in KP.3 can also be seen as requested by the BAG – but “still at a relatively moderate level.”

Officials expect a further increase during the summer. However, KP.3 is also considered to pose a low risk to public health. However, the BAG expects the number of infections to continue to rise. “An increase in SARS-COV-2 cases in the future cannot be ruled out.”