Getting infected with the viral monkeypox disease is certainly not something a person could want. It causes very unpleasant symptoms and even death in some cases. A new study by a group of Portuguese researchers now indicates that the virus seems to have already been mutating a lot faster than it was initially expected, according to the New York Post.
In samples collected this year, researchers found an average of five times more mutations than how many were expected.
Are the mutations to blame for the higher level of transmissibility?
The most obvious hunch right now is to think that the mutations have caused the higher spread of monkeypox that we’ve been reading about in the news lately. But we shouldn’t jump to conclusions too soon.
João Paulo Gomes, a co-author of the new research and head of the Genomics & Bioinformatics Unit from the National Institute of Health in Portugal, said it clear for Newsweek:
We do not know that,
We just know that these additional 50 mutations were quite unexpected.
He also added, as the same source quotes:
Considering that this 2022 monkeypox virus is likely a descendant of the one in the 2017 Nigeria outbreak, one would expect no more than five to 10 additional mutations instead of the observed about 50 mutations. We hope that now, specialized groups will perform laboratory experiments in order to understand if this 2022 virus has increased its transmissibility.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently decided to give the disease a new name due to concern that the current one might be discriminating. At this point, we don’t have information about when exactly the change will take place, but we’re expecting to learn more about it soon enough.
The new study was published in Nature Medicine.