Coronavirus: MLB employees to participate in vast study on antibody testing

Major League Baseball employees will participate in a vast study on the viability of COVID-19 antibody testing, sources confirmed to CBS Sports.

The study, which will not affect any timeline for a potential start of the 2020 MLB regular season, will include about 10,000 MLB employees and help determine whether test subjects have been infected with COVID-19 even if they never presented symptoms. As ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes, the goal is to determine the extent of the coronavirus pandemic in large metropolitan areas. The study is a joint effort on the part of Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory. 

The antibody test, should it prove successful and viable, would be a pin-prick blood test that could be administered at home and yield results in a matter of minutes, unlike the current COVID-19 test that must be performed by health care professionals. According to Passan, the antibody test is designed for “research and epidemiological purposes,” which means it’s not something that otherwise would’ve been used to test the at-large population and thus doesn’t affect those testing capacities. 

The data from the study should help policymakers decide when it will be prudent to lift the various stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders that are in effect across the vast majority of the U.S. It will do that, at least theoretically, by allowing for more accurate estimates on how prevalent the coronavirus is over and above the limited tests that have been performed thus far. 

MLB is of course just one of many sports presently on hold because of the global pandemic

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