Data analyzed by researcher and economist Andreas Backhaus suggests that young people might be carriers of COVID-19 more often than they think – another good reason for those who feel fine and strong enough to weather the virus to stay home regardless and not act as a multiplier of the disease. In a time that has been deemed crucial to flatten the curve, young people’s behavior is an important contribution ensuring that health systems are not pushed to collapse.
Backhaus published his findings on Medium here. Extensive and free testing showed that young people in South Korea were carrying the virus very frequently. In Italy, where testing is not available to people who are not falling critically ill from the disease – which includes a disproportionate amount of young people – fewer young people are known to have the disease. But since few young people get tested – similarly to the situation in other European countries – these findings are most likely deceiving.
The fact that tourists returning from ski breaks seem to have carried the virus into Switzerland, Germany and Austria from Northern Italy at an alarming rate adds to the suspicion that asymptomatic spread must have been going on in Italy and more young carriers of the disease were – and still are – present in Italy.
While both Italy and South Korea are aging societies, Italy is so to a higher degree, which might also have contributed to the different findings. In South Korea, many younger members of the Shincheonji Christian sect became infected. Yet, the vastly disparaging pictures of coronavirus carriers in the two countries suggest there is at least some degree of underreporting in younger age groups in Italy and the rest of Europe.