COVID-19 variants and the evolving science

Feb 24, 2021 | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara | Comments (3)


People may be curious, confused or critical of what seem to be changing messages related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, reminds folks that messages change because data changes and the science evolves.

"As we learn new science, we use that science to modify our recommendations," says Dr. Poland. "It's not that scientists are flip-flopping. It is that new data allows us to begin expanding those recommendations."

For instance, COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are currently declining. But, Dr. Poland says, there are new data predicting the possibility of another surge of COVID-19 infections in March because of U.K. variant transmission.

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast Dr. Poland talks about several issues, including the U.K. variant, vaccine development and the public’s COVID-19 fatigue.

To practice safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, this interview was conducted using video conferencing. The sound and video quality are representative of the technology used. For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Read the full transcript.

Connect with others talking about the pandemic and supporting one another in the COVID-19 support group.

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and

Dr. Poland has served as a consultant for Merck & Co. Inc., Medicago Inc., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Sanofi Pasteur, Emergent BioSolutions Inc., Dynavax Technologies Corp., Genentech Inc., Eli Lilly and Co., Kentucky BioProcessing Inc. and Genevant Sciences Corp., and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. He is a paid scientific adviser for Johnson & Johnson. Honoraria: Elsevier.


Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Podcasts blog.

Thank you for these very informative sessions. I watch every week. I do have a question that I hope Dr. Poland can answer. As a kidney transplant patient I have a slight concern about the COVID vaccine causing rejection. Is this a valid concern?


If I have tested positive over a month ago how long do I need to wait for vaccine shot???


@mapleleafs this video should help answer your question thoroughly based on this video introduction:
Andrew Badley, M.D., COVID-19 Research Task Force Chair, Mayo Clinic: If you've already had COVID-19, should you still get vaccinated? The answer is yes. Several reasons for that. One is that the duration of immunity that you receive after having COVID-19 disease is variable. Our current estimates are that that goes away over about three months. The vaccine protection can augment that. So our current recommendations are, if you've had COVID-19, wait until you're better and up to about 90 days or three months and then receive the vaccine when you're able to.

-Do I still need to get vaccinated if I've already had COVID-19
If you would like to connect with other members on COVID-19, please join one of many discussions in the COVID-19 Group here:

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