Unconcerned about Omicron: More than four-in-five now believe a COVID-19 infection would be mild, manageable

By: Kw Now Local News
| Published 01/26/2022

Omicron should not be referred to as “mild' say health officials
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More than four-in-five now believe a COVID-19 infection would be mild, manageable

'For the first time, the majority want Canada to shift its vaccination efforts to focus on less wealthy countries.'

Nearly 40% of the world's population has yet to receive one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

January 26, 2022 – Even as public health officials call for caution from Canadians as the Omicron wave peaks, new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds many believing a personal infection by COVID-19 would be “like a case of the flu.”

Indeed, half (49%) believe if they caught the virus, they would have serious but manageable symptoms while a further one-third (36%) think their infection would be mild.

These data stand against a backdrop of warnings from many health experts that though Omicron may be causing less severe outcomes than the previous Delta variant, it should not be referred to as “mild.”

Still, relatively few Canadians worry that if they were infected, they would have to be hospitalized (12%) or worse – an infection for them could be fatal (3%). For comparison, in both the summer and winter of 2020, nearly three times as many said that contracting COVID-19 would have these serious consequences.

As Omicron begins to ebb, there remain global concerns that more variants are possible in the future as long as there are large pockets of unvaccinated people in less wealthy countries. Almost 40 per cent of the world’s population has yet to receive one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, including many in Africa, where Omicron was first identified.

Notably then, far more Canadians say they’d prefer this country shift its vaccination focus outside of its own borders. Approaching half (46%) of Canadians want Canada to focus on vaccinating people in less wealthy countries, while two-in-five (39%) prefer the efforts stay locally. That represents a significant change in the opinions of Canadians from the summer, when seven-in-ten opposed sharing vaccines globally until vaccinations here were complete.

More Key Findings:

  • Parents with children in kindergarten (44%) and Grades 1 to 4 (45%) are more likely to want the vaccination effort to be prioritized at home than respondents without any children in grade school (37%).

  • A majority of past Conservative voters (54%) want Canada to continue to focus the vaccination effort within its border, the only partisan group where that’s the case.

  • Almost all (94%) of the unvaccinated believe a COVID-19 infection for them would be mild or manageable. Meanwhile, one-in-five (18%) of those with a booster shot worry an infection for them would be serious or deadly, more than the number of those with two doses who believe the same.

More Mutations pose potential threats

There are many possible avenues for evolution. Animals could potentially incubate and unleash new variants. Pet dogs and cats, deer and farm-raised mink are only a few of the animals vulnerable to the virus, which can potentially mutate within them and leap back to people.

Another potential route: With both omicron and delta circulating, people may get double infections that could spawn what Ray calls “Frankenvariants,” hybrids with characteristics of both types.