New COVID Variant KP.3 Now Accounts for 25% of Cases: What You Need to Know

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new COVID variant, KP.3, is rapidly becoming dominant across the United States.

For the two-week period from May 26 to June 8, CDC data indicates that the KP.3 variant accounts for 25% of COVID cases in the U.S., making it the dominant variant. This surpasses the previous leader, the JN.1 variant, which spread globally last winter and now comprises 22.5% of cases.

The CDC uses the Nowcast data tracker to project the prevalence of COVID variants over a two-week period. This tool helps estimate the current prevalence of variants but does not predict future virus spread.

What is the KP.3 Variant?

The KP.3 variant is similar to the JN.1 variant and other “FLiRT” variants like KP.1.1 and KP.2.

State of COVID Cases in the U.S.

Although death and hospitalization rates have significantly declined, CDC data shows an increase in positive tests and emergency room visits. On June 4, the CDC reported that “COVID-19 infections are growing or likely growing in 30 states.”

Fall Vaccine to Target JN.1

The rise of the KP.3 variant coincides with an FDA panel meeting to discuss updates to the COVID vaccine for the fall. During the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meeting, experts from Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax indicated they are prepared to produce JN.1-targeted vaccines, which could be available by August pending FDA approval.

The updated vaccines are expected to be released in the fall, ahead of an anticipated increase in COVID-19 cases during the winter.

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