Two new national polls indicate a mixed reaction with a partisan divide among Americans on the need for updated COVID boosters that the U.S. regulators recently cleared for a fall immunization drive.
Early this month, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) won FDA authorizations to market their messenger-RNA shots adjusted for a recently-emerged Omicron subvariant called XBB.1. Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) is awaiting FDA nod for their similarly updated, but protein-based, booster.
As the immunization drive gets underway, online polls conducted by Reuters/Ipsos and Politico/Morning Consult in early September signal that only around half of Americans will prefer to get the new booster shots.
According to more than 4,400 U.S. adults surveyed by Reuters and Ipsos, just over 50% of Americans are interested in getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine.
Almost 30% of people surveyed were very interested and 24% were somewhat interested in getting the shots. About 17% were not very interested, and 30% said they were not interested at all.
In the Reuters/Ipsos poll, 54% said they were “personally” concerned about the COVID transmission. That is a decline from 77% and 90% who indicated a similar response in two previous polls conducted three years ago and early 2020, respectively, when the pandemic was raging.
As the main reason for dislike, 36% said the vaccine was dangerous, while 5% said they didn’t think COVID-19 could make people sick.
The poll conducted by Politico and Morning Consult using nearly 2,000 American voters puts the level of preference slightly higher: 57% indicated that they will “probably” or “definitely” get vaccinated, while the rest said they definitely will not get the booster.
About 79% of Democrats and 39% of Republicans signaled their preference for the updated shot, respectively, and that figure stood at 48% among Independents.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll indicated a similar division as 77% of Democrats and 34% of Republicans said they would be interested in getting the updated vaccine.
However, overall poll numbers on vaccine fatigue show an improvement from last year’s booster campaign which focused on bivalent shots adjusted for BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron strains. At the time, ~56.5M people, or 17% of eligible Americans, received the updated shots, according to CDC data.
In preparation for lower vaccine demand, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech has reportedly started discussions with its manufacturing partners to scale back production.
Meanwhile, the company recently reaffirmed its 2023 COVID vaccine sales guidance at $6B–$8B, tying it to the extent of U.S. vaccination rates.