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No Covid FLiRT variants detected in Russia – watchdog

The latest iteration of the virus could become the dominant strain across the world, Rospotrebnadzor has said

The new FLiRT variant of Covid-19, which has been increasingly spreading around the world, has not yet been detected in Russia, the country’s consumer health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, reported on Wednesday.

The new variant, named KP.2 and dubbed FLiRT by scientists, has been linked to rising cases of Covid-19 in the US, UK, and South Korea, according to GISAID disease tracking data. It is a descendant of the JN.1 variant, which has been circulating since December.

“The FLiRT variants are distant relatives of the dominant JN.1 variant, all belonging to the ‘omicron’ family,” Rospotrebnadzor said in a statement. The symptoms caused by the FLiRT variant are similar to previous strains and can include fever, chills, cough, nausea, muscle or body aches, and loss of taste or smell, the watchdog said.

According to preliminary data, KP.2 may become the dominant lineage throughout the world, the agency added.

The KP.2 variant accounted for around 28% of all Covid-19 infections in the US from April 28 to May 11, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The latest numbers make it the new dominant strain in the US, overtaking JN.1, which spread globally during the winter, the US agency said on Wednesday.

While the variant is expected to continue evolving, scientists have said KP.2 is not especially concerning, and unlike other variants, is not sparking widespread illness.

Covid-19 emerged in late 2019 and soon developed into the most widespread epidemic in nearly a century. The disease has since killed an estimated 7 million people.

In August 2020, Russia released Sputnik V, which was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute and was the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine to be registered.

Earlier this year, the Russian Health Ministry relaxed its requirements for compulsory vaccination for Covid-19, declaring that most people will no longer require regular shots for the virus.

In January, Rospotrebnadzor stated that the peak of Covid-19 infections had passed in Russia and that new mass vaccination campaigns were no longer needed.

May 16, 2024 at 06:02PM
RT

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