Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

FLiRT Variants: Latest Twist in the COVID-19 Saga


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: FLiRT Covid Variant

Why in the news?

The emergence of new variants KP.2 and KP1.1, known as the FLiRT variants, has raised global concerns.

  • Despite vaccination efforts, these variants pose challenges, leading to concerns about a potential rise in COVID-19 cases.

What are the FLiRT Variants of COVID-19?

  • KP.2 and KP1.1, dubbed ‘FLiRT’ variants, are descendants of the Omicron JN.1 which spread globally over the winter last year.

Features and Differences from Other Variants

  • New Spike Mutations: The FLiRT group includes two specific mutations that are believed to enhance the virus’s ability to infect human cells.
  • Transmission and Evasion: Preliminary studies suggest that KP.2, the more prevalent of the two, may possess enhanced capabilities to evade immune responses generated by vaccines and previous infections.

Are FLiRT Variants Riskier than JN.1?

  • Increased Immune Evasion: Research indicates that KP.2 shows a significant ability to escape immunity from both the latest vaccines and previous infections.
  • Reproduction Number: The reproduction number of KP.2 may be higher than that of JN.1, indicating a potentially greater ability to spread.
  • No definitive evidence: While there’s no definitive evidence that FLiRT variants cause more severe illness, their ability to circumvent immune defences can lead to more infections and, by extension, potential increases in hospitalizations.


[2022] In the context of vaccines manufactured to prevent COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following statements:

  1. The Serum Institute of India produced COVID-19 vaccine named Covishield using mRNA platform.
  2. Sputnik V vaccine is manufactured using vector based platform.
  3. COVAXIN is an inactivated pathogen based vaccine.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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