New COVID-19 Variants: FLiRT and LB.1

As of mid-2024, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve with the emergence of new variants. The most notable among these are the FLiRT and LB.1 variants. Here’s what you need to know about these new strains and their impact:

What are FLiRT and LB.1 Variants?

FLiRT, a dominant new strain, evolved from the Omicron variant and is currently responsible for a significant number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. This variant has changes in its spike protein, making it more adept at evading immune responses from previous infections or vaccinations​ (Mayo Clinic News Network)​​ (Yale Medicine)​.

LB.1, another new variant, is genetically similar to FLiRT and descended from the JN.1 strain. Both FLiRT and LB.1 have mutations that might enhance their transmissibility and ability to evade immunity​ (Yale Medicine)​.

Symptoms and Transmission

The symptoms of the FLiRT variant are consistent with previous strains and include sore throat, body aches, cough, runny nose, and shortness of breath. These variants can evade immune protection more effectively, leading to a potential rise in cases​ (Mayo Clinic News Network)​​ (Yale Medicine)​.

Vaccine Updates and Protection

Vaccination remains a crucial defense against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. The effectiveness of existing vaccines against new variants is under constant review, and updated vaccines targeting these new strains are anticipated for the fall​ (Mayo Clinic News Network)​​ (Yale Medicine)​.

Preparing for the Future

Experts predict an increase in cases during the summer, with a more substantial surge likely in the fall and winter when respiratory infections generally rise. The CDC and healthcare professionals recommend staying up-to-date with vaccinations, especially for older adults and those at higher risk of severe illness​ (Mayo Clinic News Network)​​ (Yale Medicine)​.

For more detailed information on the new COVID-19 variants and recommendations, visit the Mayo Clinic and Yale Medicine websites.

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