324 cases of COVID-19 variant FLiRT detected in India: INSACOG data

KP.1 and KP.2 belong to a group of COVID-19 variants scientists have nicknamed 'FLiRT', after the technical names of their mutations.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 21, 2024 | 6:11 PM Updated May 21, 2024 | 6:13 PM

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As many as 290 cases of KP.2 and 34 cases of KP.1 — both sub-lineages of COVID-19 that are responsible for surge in cases in Singapore — have been found in India, according to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG).

KP.1 and KP.2 belong to a group of COVID-19 variants that scientists have nicknamed “FLiRT”.

The nomenclature is based on the technical names of the mutations of these subvariants: Fast-Transmitting, Low-Immunity, Rapid-Transforming.

It is a subvariant of the Omicron lineage and has emerged as a significant concern due to its heightened infectiousness.

KP.2 cases in India. (INSACOG)

As many as 290 cases of KP.2 have been registered across India, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number at 148.

It is followed by West Bengal (36), Gujarat(23), Rajasthan (21), Odisha (17), Uttarakhand (16), Goa (12), Uttar Pradesh (eight), Karnataka (four), Haryana (three), and one each in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.

Of these cases, there are 34 instances of the KP.1 variant, with the highest numbers recorded in West Bengal (23), Maharashtra (four), Rajasthan and Gujarat two each respectively, and one each in Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, and Uttarakhand.

Singapore is seeing a new COVID-19 wave as the authorities recorded more than 25,900 cases from 5 May to 11 May, with KP.1 and KP.2 accounting for over two-thirds of them.

Globally, the predominant COVID-19 variants are still JN.1 and its sub-lineages, including KP.1 and KP.2.

Also Read: Should we be worried about FLiRT, the new coronavirus variant?

‘No associated increase in hospitalisation’

However, a source in the Union health ministry told PTI that they are all subvariants of JN1 and there is no associated increase in hospitalization and severe cases.

“So there is no reason for concern or panic. The mutations will keep happening at a rapid pace and this is the natural behaviour of viruses like SARS-CoV2,” the source said.

KP.1 cases in India. (INSACOG)

The source further said that the INSACOG surveillance is sensitive and is able to pick up the emergence of any new variant and samples are also picked from hospitals in a structured manner to detect any change in the severity of disease due to the virus.

Dr Satyanarayana Mysore, the chairman, HOD and consultant in Pulmonology, Lung Transplant Physician, and Sleep Medicine at Manipal Hospital in Bengaluru, is not surprised by the emergence of the variant.

“The coronavirus, by the laws of nature, has to evolve. Evolution is a key process where the virus will try to change the protein configuration,” he said.

“The new FLiRT variant is one such evolution. We are not surprised by this emergence. Over the last three to four years, numerous variants have been noted. Only very few have turned out to be variants of interest, and one or two have been the variants of concern,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the FLiRT variant as a severe form and recommended cautious monitoring.

(With PTI inputs)

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