This A.2 strain, which is largely found in the United States and Thailand, has not been linked to major mass events or superdistributor events, unlike B.1, which is found in large parts of Europe.
There is certainly no evidence yet that either strain could be more contagious or virulent.
The genome sequence data from two monkeypox patients from Kerala belong to the A.2 version of the monkeypox virus, in contrast to the majority of genomes worldwide belonging to the B.1 strain, said Vinod Skarya, genome sequencing scientist at IGIB.
Officials emphasized that of the four confirmed cases of monkeypox in India, these were the only two that had been sequenced at the moment.
“The genome sequences of two samples (EPI_ISL_13953610 and EPI_ISL_13953611) have been deposited along with two resequenced genomes from isolates from one of the samples. Both isolates were from early cases reported from Kerala and both cases have travel histories, Sakarya said.
Worldwide, Sakarya said, there are only a handful of cases belonging to the A.2 strain, and those cases, including those from India, appear to have travel links to the Middle East or West Africa.
He added: “The closest sample in the block from the United States is already from 2021 which indicates that the virus has been circulating for some time, and before European events.”
Samples were collected from monkeypox patients by the National Institute of Virology in Pune, and the genetic sequences of monkeypox virus were uploaded to the researchers’ public database, GISAID – a global initiative for real-time communication for disease prevention.
Priya Abraham, director of the ICMR’s National Institute of Virology, explained that over time all viruses undergo slow evolution and as they evolve, they form into different evolutionary branches. She said this was no cause for panic or concern.
“There are two outbreaks of monkeypox occurring simultaneously, but it is too early to provide details about the A.2 and B.1 clades and confirm whether one is more transmissible than the other. The sequence we provided from Kerala falls in category A.2 Of the thousands of monkeypox infections around the world, only five deaths have been reported, and there is no scientific evidence linking these deaths to any particular variable. However, studying the samples and inferring the behavior of the mutants will take time,” said Dr. Pragya Yadav, chief scientist. In NIV Pune.
Discovered in 1958 in monkeys at the Statins Serum Institute in Denmark, monkeypox is a zoonotic virus that can infect humans as well as other animals, including ferrets and monkeys. There are currently more than 20,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in approximately 75 countries, with common symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches and lethargy along with rashes and blisters on the face, palms, soles of the feet, mouth, eyes, or genitals.
Dr. Ekta Gupta, professor of clinical virology at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), said there is no literature to suggest that the B.1 strain is more transmissible than A.2 but based on the number of disease cases in Europe. , containing mainly the B.1 strain, this virus is thought to be more transmissible.
“There is no evidence that B.1 is more transmissible but it has spread more and resulted in more cases than A.2, which has been found in the US since 2021 but has not resulted in any large clusters,” said Dr. Gupta. .
But the spread of one mutation over the other could also be a result of what’s known as the founder effect – in other words, B.1 may have become more common just because people infected with it continued to infect more people.