Under 1% of MLB employees test positive for virus antibodies

NEW YORK (AP) – Only 0.7% of Major League Baseball employees tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The results were based on about 5,600 completed records for employees from 26 clubs. The samples were obtained on April 14th and 15th.

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"This allows us to take a look at the prevalence across the country," said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya at Stanford, one of the study's leaders, said Sunday.

The start of the baseball season has been delayed due to the virus outbreak. There is no schedule for the start of the season.

Sixty people tested positive for the raw data, and adjustments were made for false positives and false negatives. Bhattacharya said the survey had a false positive rate of 0.5%.

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Antibodies are produced by a person's immune system if they have been infected with a virus.

MLB employees were less affected than their neighboring communities, Bhattacharya said.

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The University of Southern California and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City also led the study.

The data for players has not been divided. The study was not representative of the general population, given that 95% of participants were under 65 years old and had few reported comorbidities.

The doctors on the MLB team analyzed the results last month. The aim of the study was to better determine the scope of COVID-19, which could help governments and healthcare professionals in assessing when to suspend home stay requests.

Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Colorado and Miami did not participate, Bhattacharya said.

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“The MLB population is a special population. They are not representative of all the cities in which they are ", Bhattacharya said. "They are also more successful than a typical population, so it is not representative.… They have an organization that allows us to try in just two days, in so many places at the same time. And this is unique."

"I don't think they are doing this to benefit them" Bhattacharya said. “If the economy opens up, the sport will be a great meeting. So, in a sense, it benefits everyone. In fact, I think they are doing it because they want to contribute to public health knowledge. "

Each club received approximately 350 tests.

"Being able to have a window on how widespread the epidemic is in so many places at the same time is something really special" Bhattacharya said.

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AP baseball writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

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