BACKGROUND COLOUR

A vaccinated but wary Australian population

While vaccine uptake has been rapidly improving, the perceived likelihood of being infected by COVID-19 has also increased. In October 2021, 40% of Australians thought it was likely or very likely they would be infected with COVID-19 in the next 6 months, up from 31% in August, and 11% in April 2021.

40 %

In October 2021, 40% of Australians thought that it was likely or very likely that they would be infected by COVID-19 in the next 6 months.

31 %

This figure was up from 31% in August 2021.

54 %

More than half (54%) of those aged 35-44 years think it is likely or very likely that they will be infected in the next 6 months. This is the highest rate of any age group.

61 %

61% of Australians reported feeling worried or anxious due to COVID-19, with no significant change from August 2021.

Per cent of Australians who thought it was likely or very likely that they would be infected by COVID-19 in the next six months, April 2020 to October 2021
What do you think is the likelihood of you being infected by COVID-19 in the next 6 months? 1. Very likely 2. Somewhat likely 3. Not very likely 4. Not at all likely
Sources & Methodology
Variable description Per cent who responded 'Very likely' or 'Somewhat likely', by month and year
Variable time span April 2020 - October 2021
Published by ANU Poll
Publisher Link https://csrm.cass.anu.edu.au/research/publications/tracking-wellbeing-outcomes-during-covid-19-pandemic-october-2021-putting
Data Source doi:10.26193/YB3CXX
CSV Data
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After a near tripling from April to August 2021 – from 10.7% to 30.8% – expectations of infection increased again to two-in-five Australians (40.0%) in October 2021 thinking that they will be infected by COVID-19 over the next 6 months.

The proportion of Australians who think it is likely that they will be infected by COVID-19 in the next 6 months has continued to increase. After a near tripling from April 2021 to August 2021 – from 10.7 per cent to 30.8 per cent – expectations of infection increased again to two-in-five Australians (40.0 per cent) in October 2021 thinking that they will be infected by COVID-19 over the subsequent six months. This is a similar level to the previous peak of 39.5 per cent which occurred during the early stages of the pandemic in Australia in April 2020.

Per cent of Australians who thought it was likely or very likely that they would be infected by COVID-19 in the next six months by age and sex, April 2020 and October 2021
What do you think is the likelihood of you being infected by COVID-19 in the next 6 months? 1. Very likely 2. Somewhat likely 3. Not very likely 4. Not at all likely
Sources & Methodology
Variable description Per cent who responded 'Very likely' or 'Somewhat likely', by sex and age
Variable time span April 2020 and October 2021
Published by ANU Poll
Publisher Link https://csrm.cass.anu.edu.au/research/publications/tracking-wellbeing-outcomes-during-covid-19-pandemic-october-2021-putting
Data Source doi:10.26193/YB3CXX
CSV Data
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CHART
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More than half of those aged 35 to 44 years (53.8 per cent) think they will be infected in the next six months, compared to one-in-five of those aged 75 years or older.

While in October 2021 the expected likelihood of being infected by COVID-9 had increased to a similar level reported during the very early months of the pandemic, changes in the expected likelihood of infection in the next six-months differ between population groups. During the early stages of the pandemic, women were significantly more likely to think they would be infected in the next six months than men were. By October 2021, there were no differences between women and men. There appears to have been a widening in age differences in expected likelihood of infection over the pandemic period, although the standard errors are reasonably large for some age groups meaning that this finding should be treated with some caution.

The expected likelihood of infection has declined for those at the lower and upper end of the age distribution, whereas they seem to have increased for those in the middle part of the distribution. Indeed, more than half of those aged 35 to 44 years (53.8 per cent) think they will be infected in the next six months, compared to one-in-five of those aged 75 years or older.

Per cent of Australians reporting anxiety and worry due to COVID-19, April 2020 to October 2021
Have you felt anxious or worried for the safety of yourself, close family members or friends, due to COVID-19?
Sources & Methodology
Variable description Per cent who responded 'Yes', by month and year
Variable time span April 2020 - October 2021
Published by ANU Poll
Publisher Link https://csrm.cass.anu.edu.au/research/publications/tracking-wellbeing-outcomes-during-covid-19-pandemic-october-2021-putting
Data Source doi:10.26193/YB3CXX
CSV Data
PNG Image
CHART
SOURCES
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The increased perceived likelihood of being infected by COVID-19 may be driven by a largely vaccinated population anticipating a more mild form of the virus.

Despite increases in the perceived likelihood of being infected by COVID-19, the rates of anxiety and worry due to COVID-19 were similar in October 2021 to what they were in August 2021. Between April and August 2021, there had been a substantial increase in the proportion of Australians who reported that they had experienced anxiety or worry due to COVID-19, from 49.8 per cent to 60.9 per cent (the highest recorded since October 2020). This suggests that the increased perceived likelihood of being infected by COVID-19 may be driven by a largely vaccinated population anticipating a more mild form of the virus.