New Covid FLiRT variant – symptoms, signs and where you can get vaccinated

A new Covid variant could be behind a sharp rise in coronavirus infections across the UK. According to the UK Health Security Agency, there has been a sharp increase in Covid hospitalisations and infections in recent weeks.

The new Covid FLiRT variant is thought to behind a sudden 21% rise in coronavirus cases in the UK. The new bug has symptoms similar to earlier versions of the virus, but with some key differences.




Top scientists have said the UK is at ‘the start of a Covid wave driven by the FLiRT variants’ – but most remain confident the new variant will not cause mass hospitalisations. Here’s all you need to know about the new covid FLiRT variant.

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Signs of new Covid variant

Generally, symptoms of the new variant are similar to earlier versions of the virus including continuous coughing, a high temperature, shortness of breath, fatigue and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Other signs are body aches, a headache, sore throat, blocked or runny nose.

However, Megan L. Ranney, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, told WebMD that FLiRT has some concerning features, like changes in the spike protein, which play a role in helping SARS-CoV-2 colonise the body and make people sick.

What is the new Covid variant?

The unofficial FLiRT nickname was inspired by the names of the mutations in the genetic code of the variants. They descend from JN.1, which had variant BA.2.86 as a parent.

Dr Thomas Russo of the University of Buffalo told Prevention: “These are part of the Omicron family. They’re like siblings.” The UK government has said there is no change to the wider public health advice at this time.

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