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MLB To Participate In Massive Coronavirus Antibody Study

About 10,000 players and personnel will be tested to help understand how widespread the virus is. But this is not the same as a COVID-19 test.
Posted at 2:48 PM, Apr 15, 2020

An enormous group of Major League Baseball players and employees are participating in a coronavirus study to test just how widespread the disease is across the U.S.

The study is being organized by Stanford University, the University of Southern California and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Lab. Their goal is to get a better understanding of the true infection rate by collecting a large nationwide sample.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya from Stanford said, "This is the first study of national scope where we're going to get a read on a large number of communities throughout the United States to understand how extensive the spread of the virus has been."

The study will test up to 10,000 people for certain coronavirus antibodies which would tell doctors if that person ever had the virus, even if they were asymptomatic. 

However, this isn't the same as the COVID-19 test, so there are no worries that thousands of test kits will be wasted on people that don't need them.

Instead, doctors will draw a small sample of blood from a finger prick and get antibody results in a matter of minutes.

But why the MLB? Dr. Bhattacharya says it's all about speed.

He said, "I've reached out to others, but MLB moved by far the fastest. They've been enormously cooperative and flexible. We're trying to set up a scientific study that would normally take years to set up, and it's going to be a matter of weeks."

Researchers plan for data to return quickly so they can begin their peer-reviewed paper as soon as possible, and hopefully help ease nationwide stay-at-home measures. For Newsy, I'm Gage Jackson.