Oh My, Oh My (The Omicron Variant)
We thought the Covid update data we’d written about just before Thanksgiving would be our last NuVoodoo Quick-Turn Study for 2021, but we changed our minds when news of the Omicron variant broke over Thanksgiving weekend. To get an initial read on reactions to the discovery of this highly-mutated new variant, we let the initial news cycle play out and then fielded a NuVoodoo Quick-Turn Study on November 29th & 30th. You can find additional commentary about the study in a video with Mike O’Connor and me here.
This new study of 2,124 Adults 18-64 nationwide shows 65% at least partially vaccinated – including 18% who’ve already gotten a booster shot. Ten percent say they’re still undecided about getting vaccinated and 18% number themselves as having no intention of getting vaccinated whatsoever.
The Midwest and Southern regions of the US lag the Northeast and Western regions in terms of vaccinations – and lead with the highest numbers of those who do NOT intend to get vaccinated.
The massive media coverage of Omicron over the past few days has increased overall concern about COVID. One in four among our sample overall say they’re now more concerned about COVID, but increased concern among vaccinated people nearly doubles the concern among those who have not received a shot.
News about Omicron is not even a week old as I’m writing this, but awareness for the new COVID variant is widespread: A solid 80% in our sample have heard of it. Overall concern levels, however, fall short of the levels we tracked in 2020 when Americans were first starting to live with the COVID. Still, 37% overall and 39% among the vaccinated are concerned enough now to at least take a few extra precautions as the result of this new COVID strain.
For now, most Americans appear to be taking a “wait and see” attitude about how Omicron will impact their activities. Around 2 in 3 aren’t likely to be deterred, at least for now, to shop in a store, dine indoors or attend a holiday party.
By comparison, more are cautious overall when it comes to going to concerts, attending major sporting events or catching a plane; better than 4 in ten are avoiding those things until the pandemic subsides or more is known about this new COVID variant.
Across the entire panel of activities we asked about, between 13% and 18% said they’d be tapping the breaks until more is known about Omicron. While many fear a return to the stiff restrictions from earlier in the pandemic, it’s fair for anyone to want to get more information about whether Omicron represents a potential for serious illness, hospitalization, the dreaded “long Covid” (or worse). With the holiday season upon us, listeners will be thirsty for information about local infection levels, who are most at risk of infection, and information about how ill those infected by the new variant are.