Study: 0.7% of MLB Employees Had COVID-19 Antibodies, 0 Died from Virus

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 10, 2020

The Major League Baseball logo serves as the visitor's on deck circle before a baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians Wednesday, April 24, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Results from Major League Baseball's participation in a nationwide COVID-19 antibody study were made available Sunday. 

Per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the study of 5,603 MLB employees returned 39 positive results (0.7 percent). 

MLB Network's Jon Heyman noted none of the people who tested positive have died from the virus and it's the largest national antibody study to date. 

Shaikin noted the number of positive tests was rounded up to 60 after consideration was given to false positives and negatives. 

MLB teams agreed last month to participate in the study conducted by Stanford University, USC and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory, with up to 10,000 people being tested for coronavirus antibodies. 

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, the study is expected to provide researchers with a sense of how widespread the virus is in metropolitan areas, though he noted that doctors were cautioning that "data gathered is not expected to hasten the game's return."

Stanford Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (via Heyman) said the 0.7 percent rate from MLB employees is both good and bad, with the bad part being that the epidemic "hasn't gotten very far."

Bhattacharya told reporters the study was about finding a large pool of people from all over the country to test, but it didn't reveal enough to recommend potentially playing games in a specific area: "To say you can go play in Arizona or wherever, on the basis of this study, would be difficult."

Participants in the study were 60 percent male, 80 percent white and featured largely white-collar workers, which Bhattacharya noted can undermine the legitimacy of nationwide stats because there is a "socioeconomic gradient where poorer populations are facing COVID infections at higher rates." 

The results were made available in the wake of a report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal that MLB intends to present a plan to owners for the 2020 season Monday, followed by a proposal to the MLB Players Association if owners approve. 

Given the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, Rosenthal noted any formal plan would be subject to change, contingent upon approval from medical experts and sufficient testing being readily available.