Report: Major League Baseball employees, including players, participating in massive coronavirus antibody test


An upcoming study that will test up to 10,000 people for coronavirus antibodies is going to feature some Major League Baseball employees, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

MLB was reportedly included in the study due to the speed with which it could ensure the participation of a diverse group including players, executives, concession workers and others.

The test is meant to gauge the spread of the virus in major metropolitan areas around the United States, which MLB certainly has a presence in. The doctors running the test caution that the data is not expected to accelerate the return of baseball.

Why is MLB participating in COVID-19 study?

The test is reportedly being run by Stanford University, USC and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory. Tests will be performed by pinpricks with results coming in 10 minutes, at which point the presence of antibodies produced against the virus should make it clear if a person did contract the coronavirus, asymptomatic or not.

From ESPN:

"This is the first study of national scope where we're going to get a read on a large number of communities throughout the United States to understand how extensive the spread of the virus has been," said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who will assess the data gathered this week and write a peer-reviewed paper he hopes to publish as early as next week. "This will be the very first of those.

Why MLB versus other employers? I've reached out to others, but MLB moved by far the fastest. They've been enormously cooperative and flexible. We're trying to set up a scientific study that would normally take years to set up, and it's going to be a matter of weeks."

The antibody tests were reportedly secured in mid-March before they were FDA-approved and are not similar to the highly in-demand tests that detect active COVID-19 cases. This test is better suited for research and the president of SMRTL assured that it was “absolutely not getting redirected” from frontline testing programs.

MLB players’ test results will reportedly be de-identified. While the league won’t be getting a clearer picture for itself when baseball games can resume, the data reportedly figures to be helpful in giving politicians a clearer timeline for reopening the country:

"MLB did not partner with us for any selfish reason to get their sport back sooner," Eichner said. "They jumped in for public health policy. That was their intention and their only intention."

MLB games remain shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with no strong indicator for when they will be able to come back. Some ideas, such as completely isolating the league’s essential personnel and playing games in empty stadiums, have been floated, but it’s still hard to see how the league can responsibly return in the near future.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - 2020/01/12: Major League Baseball, or MLB, logo seen in Shanghai. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MLB employees from all over will participate in a first-of-its-kind coronavirus test. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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