The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Most Americans say pandemic will be over when virus becomes comparable to seasonal flu

Many Americans say it is important or essential that people get vaccinated against the coronavirus. (Manu Fernandez/AP)
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As the coronavirus pandemic enters its third year, a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicates that only a small minority of Americans need covid-19 to be largely eliminated before they will regard the health emergency as over.

By contrast, 83 percent of the 1,161 respondents said they would see the pandemic as a thing of the past once the virus evolves into a less severe, occasional presence in life — not unlike the seasonal flu. That’s a view taken by many public health experts and the countries that are pushing for “living with covid” policies once the virus becomes endemic, or at “a point at which the infection is no longer unpredictably disruptive.” (The World Health Organization in January warned against currently treating covid as an endemic disease.)

Seventy-three percent of respondents said getting vaccinated was important to ending the pandemic. Democrats were almost three times more likely than Republicans to believe that widespread immunization is essential.

Here’s what to know

  • The U.S. economy grew a blockbuster 6.9 percent in the last three months of 2021. While the first of quarter of 2022 may be weakened by omicron, economists forecast a rosier picture for the second half of this year.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly ignored recommendations to improve its pandemic response and is at “high risk” of mismanaging a future crisis, according to a government watchdog.
  • Beijing put more neighborhoods on lockdown and ramped up mass testing to prevent further spread of the virus, with just a week to go before the 2022 Winter Games. Sixty-plus symptomatic cases have been reported in the Chinese capital since mid-January.