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MLB Employees and Players to Take Part in First Major US COVID-19 Antibody Test

Around 10,000 people have volunteered for the study, which will help determine who has already had the disease

Major League Baseball employees, including players, will take part in the first and largest COVID-19 antibody test in the United States.

The effort will determine who has already been exposed to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and may have developed some level of immunity.

An MLB spokesman confirmed that the 10,000 league employees including players, volunteered to take part in the study, which was first reported by The Athletic. The outlet added that 27 of the 30 teams will be participating. All volunteers will submit their results anonymously.

The test, called the COVID-19 Sero Pervalence Study, is being conducted by researchers from Stanford, USC and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory. The study includes family members of players’ and team staff, as well as part-time stadium workers such as concessionaires and ushers.

The study is being funded by private donors and will not be used to determine whether or not the MLB season, which was pushed back indefinitely from its March 26 start, can be started. It will be used to help determine the true spread of the coronavirus, given that many carries of the disease are asymptomatic and thus not recorded as confirmed cases. According to Johns Hopkins, there are more than 1.97 million confirmed cases of the disease around the world and over 600,000 in the U.S. alone.

It is a blood test that involves volunteers pin-pricking their finger and sending the sample to the researchers.

The antibody test does not determine if someone is currently infected with the disease, but rather looks for the presence of antibodies which signal the body has developed some type of immune response. Jay Bhattacharya, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine at Stanford University and one of the researchers who leading the study, told The Athletic that the he hopes to have results of the tests in a week, and be able to have the results published and peer-reviewed in two weeks.

“This will be the first time we will be able to see how truly prevalent COVID-19 has spread throughout the United States,” Bhattacharya told The Athletic. “And instead of it taking years to pull together a study of this scope, especially with stay-at-home orders, MLB has helped us turn it around in a matter of weeks.”