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New COVID Variant 'FLiRT' Isn't As Cute As It Sounds

Ugh, a new COVID-19 strain just dropped! And this one is very friendly: it’s a “FLiRT” variant called “KP2.” But unfortunately, the only thing you’ll be flirting with in this case is sickness and pain. 

The FLiRT variant is making headlines because it’s been found in 25% of the COVID-19 cases in the U.S. lately. It’s even beating out the previously dominant strain JN.1. At this point, we’re basically collecting new strains like Pokemon. 

Now, why is everyone talking about these FLiRT variants? Well, it seems they’ve got some new moves, especially in their spike proteins — those are like their secret weapons for sneaking into our bodies and making us feel under the weather.

But here’s the kicker – only about a fifth of adults have gotten the latest COVID-19 vaccine, which was way back in 2023-24. With our immunity kinda fading like our favorite pair of jeans, experts are worried we might be in for another wave of infections. That’s why you should get vaccinated like you do for the flu. 

Here’s everything we know about the latest variant KP2.

Why Is It Called “FLiRT”?

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with how you catch it. These are considered “FLiRT” variants all because of the technical names for the mutations that have occurred. One of the mutations has the letters “F” and “L,” while the other has “R” and “T.” Other than that, there’s no need to know the full technical name because it’s not going to do much for your understanding. 

What Are FLiRT Symptoms? 

Now, when it comes to symptoms, FLiRT’s cute name doesn’t mean you get any cuter symptoms. In fact, the symptom is pretty much the same with the other variants. You might still get the usual suspects like fever, cough, sore throat, and, of course, feeling like you got hit by a truck. Oh, and let’s not forget about “brain fog” — something I already get pretty bad cases of, so it’s hard to imagine it getting worse. 

The CDC is also reminding us that COVID-19 symptoms can vary from person to person. You could be getting any combination of the symptoms, and it could be totally different from the ones someone else experiences. So even if you think you’re just coming down with a fever or a cold, your best bet may be to get that COVID test for good measure. 

What Do I Do If I Catch FLiRT?

And just when you thought you had the COVID-19 rules down, the CDC decided to shake things up. Now, if you test positive, they’re saying you don’t necessarily have to quarantine for five days. Instead, they suggest we all do our part to stop the spread by staying home when we’re sick, keeping up with vaccines, washing our hands obsessively, and maybe investing in some good indoor air fresheners.

The CDC is keeping a close eye on these FLiRT variants, but they’re saying not to panic just yet. Even though KP.2 is the dominant strain and showing up more often, overall COVID-19 transmission is still pretty low.

Syeda Khaula Saad
Syeda Khaula Saad
Syeda Khaula Saad is a sex & dating writer at Betches despite not remembering the last time she was in a relationship. Just take her word for it.