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MLB coronavirus antibody study turns up fewer than expected positive tests


'I was expecting a larger number'

A general view of Guaranteed Rate Feld, home of the Chicago White Sox. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

A coronavirus antibody study conducted by Stanford University researchers and Major League Baseball found fewer positive tests than expected, ESPN reported.

The study, the largest of its kind in the United States to this point, sought to test 10,000 MLB employees for antibodies that would indicate whether or not they'd gotten COVID-19 in the past, and whether they could potentially have some immunity.

Similar studies conducted around the world on a smaller scale have fueled theories that COVID-19 has much more prevalent in the population than we realize, and for a longer period of time.

The MLB/Stanford study got 5,754 test results back, and only 60 of those tests came back positive for COVID-19 antibodies. That results in a prevalence rate among MLB employees of 0.7%, with a range of 0.28% to 1.15% when adjusted to account for testing accuracy. From ESPN:

"I was expecting a larger number," said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, which ran the study. "It shows the value of doing the science as opposed to guessing."
"This is science working," Bhattacharya said. "You put your hypothesis forward. You put your work forward. Your peers evaluate it critically. I think we've done a very good job of learning from our fellow scientists."

Bhattacharya concluded from the study that "it's very clear" the U.S. is still in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although unrelated to this study, Major League Baseball has been planning ways to start its season safely as the pandemic continues.

A plan approved by the team owners and sent to the players union would have the MLB season start in early July with teams playing an approximately 80-game season with expanded playoffs. Spring training would start in early to mid-June, the report said. Whether fans would be able to attend right away, and how many, is not yet clear, but under consideration.

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