Omicron delays more Americans’ expectations for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic

December 01, 2021, 9:29 PM UTC

News about the emergence of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus emerged just before the latest Economist/YouGov Poll went into the field, but its presence can be seen in respondents’ gloom about when the pandemic will end. The largest share ever – 71% – now believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will be around in 2023: 43% say it will finally end after 2022 (up 5 points in the last week), while 28% think it will never disappear. 

While most Americans don’t expect a quick end to the pandemic, 8% say it has already ended. That percentage is higher among Republicans, 18% of whom declare the pandemic over, the same share who said that a week ago. Democrats, almost none of whom say the pandemic is over, pushed back their estimate of an end date this week. Now 78% say the pandemic will extend into 2023 or beyond, up 10 points from last week.

There were reasons for concern before Omicron emerged. Case counts were rising in recent weeks, especially in the Midwest and the Northeast. People in those two regions are more likely in this poll to say the number of cases are rising in their own communities than are people in the South or West. But a majority of people in each of the four major regions expect the pandemic to extend into at least 2023.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between November 27 and November 30, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample. 

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