The public’s fears over the omicron variant may have already peaked in the United States, new Morning Consult polling indicates. Concern has remained high among vaccinated adults since omicron was discovered in November, but it’s already beginning to fall among their unvaccinated peers.
Share of vaccinated and unvaccinated U.S. adults who say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the omicron variant
What you need to know:
- Since South African scientists identified the omicron variant in late November, about 4 in 5 vaccinated U.S. adults have said they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the new strain. Meanwhile, concern among unvaccinated adults rose to 55 percent in mid-December but fell to 44 percent by the end of the month.
- Overall, 68 percent of adults said they are concerned about the omicron variant, roughly the same share as those who are worried about the delta variant. Globally, nearly half of all recently sequenced COVID-19 cases are tied to omicron, according to a tracker from The Washington Post.
- Adults who said they are not concerned about the omicron variant were also much less likely than adults overall to say COVID-19 poses a severe health risk to the United States or to say they personally know someone who died from the disease, Morning Consult’s survey found.
- The findings come as the country enters a major COVID-19 surge, with more than 1 million new infections reported Monday, a record high for daily cases. Many hospitals are already overwhelmed and are seeing a drastic uptick in patients.
- News that the omicron variant appears less severe than earlier mutations of the virus may also be driving the decline in concern among the unvaccinated, who have consistently been less likely to say they’re worried about COVID-19. A World Health Organization official said Tuesday that emerging studies show that the omicron variant affects the upper respiratory tract, leading to milder symptoms, but cautioned that more research is needed before the strain’s full effects are known.
The poll was conducted Dec. 30, 2021, among 2,201 U.S. adults, with a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.