COVID-19 FLiRT subvariant spreading

COVID FLiRT subvariant spreading

COVID FLiRT subvariant spreading

A new COVID-19 subvariant has arrived just in time for summer. KP.2 has been nicknamed FLiRT and evolved from Omicron. It now makes up 28.2% of U.S. cases, according to the CDC.

“We don’t know much about how it behaves yet, but we do know it isn’t very different from the one it’s replacing,” said Dr. Frank Rhame, an infectious disease physician for Allina Health. “That’s grounds for hope that this isn’t going to be anything terribly different from what we’ve been seeing.”

He expects the latest COVID vaccine will still largely protect people.

According to a CDC report from earlier this year, the updated monovalent shot provided a 54% increase in protection against symptomatic COVID. It also said that while the shot targeted the XBB strain, it also offered protection against JN.1, which surged over the winter.

“We are changing, we’re vaccinating ourselves for the most recent strains we can get into a vaccine,” said Rhame. “We’re getting COVID, and the virus does what it tries to do, evade us and evolve itself.”

According to the latest Minnesota Department of Health data, only 13.6% of Minnesotans are fully up to date with their COVID shots. Rhame encourages all Minnesotans to get up to date.

“If you’re healthy like you are, you’re probably not going to die of COVID,” said Rhame. “It happens but it’s extremely rare. If you’re over 65, if you’ve got a chronic illness or you’re around people like that, you want to get vaccinated.”

“We still see people with COVID, we still have people dying of COVID, and again, they’re pretty much all people who have not been vaccinated recently and are vulnerable,” he added.