The study shows that most young Australians are ready to be tested for COVID


Since the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19) was announced in March 2020, testing for this infection has been a key point in efforts to limit virus transmission by isolating confirmed cases and quarantining suspected contacts. New study published on the prepress server medRxiv * examines the success of trials in children and adolescents in Australia, which has some of the strictest controls in the world against the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

study: Predictors of COVID testing among Australian youth: Insights from a longitudinal study of Australian children. Image credit: ST.art / Shutterstock.com

Background

Young people tend to have among the highest levels of social interaction among all age groups due to their natural effervescence, love of action, wide network of peers and participation in a number of social activities. In this context, this population is advised to slowly return to the pre-pandemic lifestyle, while continuing to use masks, be in well-ventilated indoor areas or stay outdoors while interacting with others outside the household, and observe hygiene. hands and face.

Young people remain largely unvaccinated due to the very low levels of serious diseases among them and the prioritization of high-risk groups for immunity produced by vaccines. However, this population often works in several jobs, meets many more people every day and lives with many others at home. As a result of these factors, younger people are more vulnerable to infection and more likely to transmit it, given their largely asymptomatic status.

Therefore, testing is a standard strategy for this age group. While some workplaces or travel rules may require regular testing, most other social environments rely on voluntary compliance with the testing / tracking / quarantine standards applied as required.

The need for young people to return to school and work is evident, with almost a third of young Australians reporting severe mental health during the pandemic in June 2021. These people not only acquire “book learning” and academic skills but also expand their horizons of interaction and social learning from role models outside the home are important aspects of the formal school.

While approximately half of Australians are described as willing to be tested if they have mild symptoms associated with a respiratory infection, about a quarter of the daily tests were in young individuals aged 10-29 years.

A number of predictors were considered in the present study to assess their contribution to the desire to test for COVID-19. This includes social, demographic and virus-specific factors, using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). The observed associations are not causal, but can be used to formulate causal hypotheses for further research.

Survey results

The current study includes approximately 2,300 young people, 60% of whom are aged 16-17. Three quarters of the participants in the survey are from urban centers, 57% studied at a secondary level and the same percentage were employed part-time.

About 75% of the participants in the study lived in families with three or more members, while almost 90% lived with their parents. Of the latter, over 60% are aged 16-17. About 70% are from poor backgrounds, and about 30% already have a relationship.

The percentage of young people tested for COVID stratified by living with and without parents.

More than half of the participants were unemployed during the period of pandemic restrictions, and most lived with the same household at all times. More than 80% of these people did not receive any financial assistance due to the pandemic.

The chances of being tested for COVID-19 are 80% higher for young people living in big cities, regardless of the type of household. This proved to be the strongest predictor of testing.

Those who live in a household that has changed during the pandemic are also more likely to be tested, among those who still live at home, with a 33% higher chance.

For those who live away from home, people who live with two, three or four other people are much more likely to be tested than those who live alone. The highest rates are among those with two other members of the household, at five times higher rates, compared to four and 2.6 times higher rates among those living with three and four other members, respectively.

The lack of unity in the household is also associated with five times higher chances of testing in this group than those living in a household with cohesion.

Consequences

The current study shows that young people who stay at home are most likely to be tested, especially if the composition of the household changes. This may be due to the fact that parents take care of their children, especially looking for symptoms of COVID-19 and encourage such children to be tested, in addition to transporting them to testing centers.

Again, if a family consists of members other than parents and children, parents tend to encourage more testing. This was also the case if the family came into constant contact with high-risk people, including their own relatives, which shows a socially responsible motive.

The highest odds were among those living in a big city. Other factors associated with higher levels of testing are the presence of unconnected households with children living outside and households with two or more members. This may indicate a protective measure on the part of young people to protect their families during visits, perhaps because they cannot trust their family members to do so.

Interestingly, there is an increase of almost 40% in parenting disputes before the Australian Family Court. These may be disagreements about the extent and nature of compliance with pandemic restrictions.

When a household has undergone changes as young people join one or more new households, other family members of the new household may wish the children to be tested in advance to avoid infecting others in the family.

Urban young people probably lived in more crowded areas and had more social contacts, which is reflected in the increased testing rate in both situations. This population also has greater access to testing. This division between urban and rural populations is a problem that needs to be addressed with a poor, remote and less accessible population, as well as a population with more basic diseases.

Our study found that young people were very good at testing for COVID

The majority of participants in this study came from poorer backgrounds; therefore, future testing may be unattractive to them, as it may lead to disruption of social contacts, especially after they have been vaccinated. Such individuals may be vaccinated, asymptomatic, or with only mild symptoms, which means that they have reason to believe that testing is unnecessary and may therefore deviate from isolation or be afraid to place potential contacts in isolation.

The basic survival needs of individuals and families often outweigh other health decision-making considerations.. To further stimulate testing in this age group, we should consider providing long-term financial and social support to this age group while we await the test result and during each isolation.

*Important message

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and therefore should not be considered convincing, guiding clinical practice / health-related behavior, or treated as established information



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