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Volume 26 No. 179
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Study Shows 0.7% Of MLB Staff, Players Have COVID Antibodies

A study involving thousands of staffers and players from most MLB clubs revealed that 0.7% of those who completed test kits had "antibodies for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, indicating that they had been infected at a previous time," according to Des Bieler of the WASHINGTON POST. That number is "greater than the rate of reported cases," approximately 0.4%, among the overall U.S. population. However, researchers said that most of the country "has not been tested," making the MLB study an "important and unprecedented 'snapshot'" of the virus' behavior at present. The study reportedly involved 26 of the 30 MLB clubs and "based its results on 5,603 completed tests and surveys." Researchers said that 60 people "tested positive for covid-19 antibodies, and after controlling for an expected amount of false positives and negatives, that number was adjusted to 42." The study was "described as the first of its kind in terms of its national scope." Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory President Dr. Daniel Eichner indicated that the 0.7% rate of infection "appeared encouragingly low." Stanford's Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who is leading the study, said that the 0.7% figure was "surprising in part because players and team staffers would have been grouped together in spring training ... a few weeks before tests were completed April 14 and 15" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/11). ESPN.com's Jeff Passan reported the total number of players involved in the study is "unclear." The D-backs "returned the most samples, with 362" (ESPN.com, 5/10).

WHAT'S IT MEAN? The AP's Ronald Blum notes while the percentage of Angels employees with a positive test was the "highest among teams, the error margin is too high to draw results because just 123 tests were included from the team." Bhattacharya said that the results are “'both good and bad news' because they showed the virus has not spread widely in MLB but still has many baseballers left to target." But Eichner said that the results "could mean MLB employees had been diligent in use of personal protective equipment, such as masks." Bhattacharya noted that the Cubs, Reds, Rockies and Marlins "did not participate" (AP, 5/11).