Viruses can’t mutate if they can’t replicate

Mar 24, 2021 | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara | Comments (1)

COVID medical illustration

The COVID-19 virus mutates and replicates when people let down their guard and don't follow safety protocols, such as practicing social distancing and wearing a mask.

"I think most of us expect a major surge because of spring break travel and the relaxation of restrictions," says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "And the sort of COVID fatigue that all of us feel, in one way or another."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland addresses the potential of a fourth COVID-19 surge, new information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women and he discusses research for next generation vaccines for COVID-19 variants.

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.


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I so appreciate the weekly informative updates from Dr. Poland and Dr. Gazelka and have not missed a single one! I am hoping Dr. Poland might address how the new CDC guidelines would apply to those of us who are immunosuppressed. For example, can we safely gather in homes with those who are fully vaccinated or with unvaccinated people from one household who are at low risk for Covid? It is concerning not knowing if we have much protection from the vaccine. Thank you.

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