Brown & Cream Image. Germ Awareness Wording On Typewriter Paper. Image Credit:
Brown & Cream Image. Germ Awareness Wording On Typewriter Paper. Image Credit: Domain Name For Sale

UK’s New Covid Strain: Key Facts About FLiRT – From Symptoms to Treatment

As the COVID-19 continues to evolve, new variants of the virus emerge, each presenting unique challenges to public health systems worldwide. The latest variant to capture attention is FLiRT, a new strain identified in the UK.

Origins and Characteristics

The FLiRT variant was first detected in the UK in early 2024 through routine genomic sequencing. Scientists named it FLiRT, an acronym derived from its genetic mutations: F (Spike protein mutation), L (Lipid membrane alteration), i (Immune evasion properties), R (Receptor binding domain changes), and T (Transmission enhancement).

Genetic sequencing has revealed that FLiRT contains multiple mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that binds to human cells. These mutations potentially enhance its ability to infect cells and evade the immune system, making it a variant of concern.

Symptoms of FLiRT

While the symptoms of FLiRT are similar to those of previous COVID-19 variants, some subtle differences have been noted.

Common symptoms include:

  1. Fever and chills
  2. Cough
  3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  4. Fatigue
  5. Muscle or body aches
  6. Headache
  7. New loss of taste or smell
  8. Sore throat
  9. Congestion or runny nose
  10. Nausea or vomiting
  11. Diarrhea

However, healthcare providers have observed an increase in the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and diarrhea, in FLiRT cases. Additionally, some patients report a prolonged period of fatigue and muscle aches, often referred to as “long COVID.”

Transmissibility and Severity

Preliminary data suggests that FLiRT may be more transmissible than previous variants. Its mutations allow for easier binding to human cells, potentially leading to higher viral loads in infected individuals. This increased transmissibility has led to a rapid rise in cases in regions where FLiRT has been detected.

In terms of severity, current evidence indicates that FLiRT does not cause more severe illness than other variants. However, its ability to spread more easily raises concerns about overwhelming healthcare systems, particularly if it leads to a surge in hospitalizations.

Treatment and Vaccination

The treatment for FLiRT remains largely the same as for other COVID-19 variants. Supportive care, such as rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications for symptom relief, is recommended for mild cases. Severe cases may require hospitalization, where treatments can include antiviral drugs, corticosteroids, and supplemental oxygen.

Vaccination remains a critical tool in the fight against FLiRT. Early studies indicate that existing vaccines provide significant protection against severe illness and hospitalization caused by FLiRT, although there may be a slight reduction in effectiveness against infection. Booster doses are strongly recommended to enhance immunity, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Public Health Measures

To combat the spread of FLiRT, public health authorities continue to emphasize the importance of established measures:

  1. Vaccination: Ensuring high vaccination coverage, including booster doses, is crucial.
  2. Mask-Wearing: Wearing masks in crowded and indoor settings can reduce transmission.
  3. Hand Hygiene: Regular hand washing and use of hand sanitizers help prevent the spread of the virus.
  4. Social Distancing: Maintaining physical distance in public places can reduce the risk of transmission.
  5. Testing and Isolation: Prompt testing and isolation of positive cases are vital to control outbreaks.


The emergence of the FLiRT variant underscores the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19. While this new strain appears to be more transmissible, current vaccines and public health measures remain effective tools in mitigating its impact. Staying informed about new developments and adhering to recommended guidelines are essential steps in protecting ourselves and our communities from COVID-19 and its variants.

If you test positive for the FLiRT Covid strain, it is crucial to isolate to prevent spreading the virus to others. Health authorities recommend isolating for at least 14 days from the onset of symptoms or from the date of the positive test if asymptomatic. During this period, stay in a separate room from others in your household, use a separate bathroom if possible, and avoid sharing personal items. Follow local public health guidelines as recommendations may vary based on evolving evidence and specific regional considerations.

Further Reading:

Andrew Jones Journalist

Andrew Jones is a seasoned journalist renowned for his expertise in current affairs, politics, economics and health reporting. With a career spanning over two decades, he has established himself as a trusted voice in the field, providing insightful analysis and thought-provoking commentary on some of the most pressing issues of our time.

Spread the love