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US may see COVID-19 incidence surge in summer


Published: 15:31, 20 May 2024

US may see COVID-19 incidence surge in summer

Photo: Collected

A new surge in COVID-19 incidence could occur in the United States this summer amid the spread of the FLiRT variants.

"Protection is not as guaranteed against these subvariants because the mutations are a little bit more distant from the kind of antibody protection we got from prior infection and from vaccination," an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, William Schaffner, was quoted as saying on Sunday (19 May).

He added, however, that as this evidence comes from the laboratories, "we need to see what happens in the field." Meanwhile, a virologist at University of Warwick, Lawrence Young, believes that shots would continue to protect people.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest data indicated that one of FLiRT variants, KP.2, has become the dominant strain in the US, covering 28.2% of all incidence for the period of two weeks to May 11, which is a significant hike from 3.8% registered in the second half of March. Adding to that, the incidence of KP1.1, another FLiRT variant, was also on the rise at 7.1% of all infections.

Despite that, CDC does not think that the new strains could trigger a rapid increase in severe disease cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also said that FLiRT variants were detected in 14 European countries and in Israel.