Low an­ti­bod­ies rate good news for MLB

Orlando Sentinel - - Sports Monday -

Just 0.7% of Ma­jor League Base­ball em­ploy­ees tested pos­i­tive for an­ti­bod­ies to COVID-19, the ill­ness caused by the new coro­n­avirus.

The small num­ber of pos­i­tive tests, an­nounced Sun­day, was pos­i­tive news for a sport push­ing ahead with plans to start its de­layed sea­son.

Re­searchers re­ceived 6,237 com­pleted sur­veys from em­ploy­ees of 26 clubs. That led to 5,754 sam­ples ob­tained in the U.S. on April 14 and 15 and 5,603 records that were used. The sur­vey kit had a 0.5% false pos­i­tive rate.

Dr. Jay Bhat­tacharya of Stan­ford, one of the study’s lead­ers, said the preva­lence of the an­ti­bod­ies among MLB em­ploy­ees was lower than for the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion dur­ing test­ing in New York, Los An­ge­les, the San Fran­cisco area and Mi­ami.

“I was ex­pect­ing a lit­tle bit of a higher num­ber,” Bhat­tacharya said dur­ing a tele­phone news con­fer­ence. “The set of peo­ple in the MLB em­ployee pop­u­la­tion that we tested in some sense have been less af­fected by the COVID epi­demic than their sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.”

Data for play­ers was not sep­a­rated in the study, and some MLB fam­ily mem­bers were in­cluded.

Spring train­ing was stopped March 12 and open­ing day was pushed back from March 26 be­cause of the pan­demic. MLB in­tends to give the play­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion a pre­sen­ta­tion this week for a pos­si­ble start to the sea­son, and has said fre­quent test­ing would be nec­es­sary.

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

Bhat­tacharya said MLB em­ploy­ees are younger than the over­all pop­u­la­tion and took pro­tec­tive mea­sures such as fre­quent hand wash­ing when they re­ported to spring train­ing in early Fe­bru­ary, ear­lier than most peo­ple.

MITCHELL LEFF/GETTY

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