Living through the COVID-19 pandemic can feel like running a marathon where the finish line keeps moving further and further into the horizon.
Now, the end finally seems nigh.
The World Health Organization’s Director-General recently said the pandemic finish line is “in sight,” while U.S. President Joe Biden went one step further declaring that “the pandemic is over.”
While exactly when the pandemic will officially end remains to be seen, it’s already clear the past 32 months have had a significant impact on people around the world.
As we all look forward to crossing over into endemic times, here’s a look back at what Ipsos’ Global Advisor polling reveals about people’s opinions on a range of issues during this historic crisis.
- Mental health is health
When the WHO declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, there was a lot of talk about how to keep physically safe. But there was also a lot of chatter about mental wellness amid such tumultuous times. In the years since, the percentage of people who consider mental health the biggest health problem facing people has steadily climbed from 26% in 2020 to 36% in 2022.
- Fading into the background
In the early scary days when governments started ordering people to stay at home, the coronavirus was seen as the top concern for slightly less than 2 in 3 people around the world. Since then, vaccines have become widely available and concern has slid substantially, with just over 1 in 10 seeing it as a top worry this September.
- WFH to RTO
In the spring of 2020, many white-collar workers abruptly stopped commuting to an office and started working from home. Spending the workday sitting on the couch in stretchy pants in video meetings became the norm. By late spring 2021, people were already divided about whether they were team work from home (WFH) or team return to office (RTO) once the pandemic ended.
- Money, money, money
Amid the first lockdowns around the world there were reports on shortages of masks, hand sanitizer and, um, toilet paper as well as speculation of a baby boom due to couples isolating alone together. No boom of babies came. The once-in-a-century event turned out to be the third most common factor that Gen Zers/Millennials cited as a reason for not having, or delaying having, kids in the first two years of the pandemic.
- Two steps back
Businesses, governments, and public health authorities have tried everything from giving out free beer to paid time off to mandates to encourage people to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated against COVID-19. The result? Despite those efforts, vaccinations have become a highly polarized issue and support of compulsory vaccines, in general, actually dropped when compared to pre-pandemic times.