When will the pandemic end? One in five Americans say never

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
August 03, 2021, 5:20 PM UTC

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads across the United States, many Americans appear pessimistic that the global pandemic will ever come to an end. In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, 21% of US adults say that the health crisis will “never” end. 

Other Americans tend to believe that the pandemic will not last forever, though there is little consensus as to when it will truly end. One in 10 Americans (10%) say the pandemic is already over, while 9% believe it will be finished by the end of the summer (2%) or by the end of this year (7%). One-quarter of Americans (25%) see the coronavirus emergency wrapping up in 2022. About one-third of adults (35%) think it will not be over until after 2022.

Republicans are the most likely to believe the pandemic is already over. One in five Republicans (19%) say this, compared to 12% of Independents and 2% of Democrats. But, a majority of each political group believes that the COVID-19 pandemic will not end this year. In fact, a plurality of Republicans (31%), Independents (34%), and Democrats (41%) do not see the crisis ending until after 2022.

Those who do not plan to get vaccinated are more likely than Americans overall to believe either that the pandemic has already ended (25%) or that it will never end (33%). One-quarter of Americans who are unsure about getting vaccinated (26%) believe the pandemic will never be over. Those who are vaccinated are slightly more optimistic: just 17% of those who have gotten the shot say that the pandemic will never end, 

Americans who are vaccinated (39%) or those who are unsure about vaccination (42%) tend to think that the pandemic will finally end after 2022. One in five of those who do not plan on getting vaccinated (21%) see after 2022 as the eventual end date.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll   

Related: Many Americans feel recent effects of climate change, others are not so sure 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between July 24 - 27, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample.   

Image: Photo by Samson Katt from Pexels