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MLB players, employees to participate in largest coronavirus antibody study in U.S.

Apr 15. 2020
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By The Washington Post · Michael Errigo · SPORTS, HEALTH, BASEBALL 

Thousands of volunteers across Major League Baseball will take part in the largest coronavirus antibody study done in the United States so far.

According to reports from ESPN and the Athletic, up to 10,000 volunteers from 27 of the 30 major league teams could partake in the study. MLB plans to provide participants from a wide variety of demographics and backgrounds, including players, front-office staff and part-time stadium employees.

The study will be run by Stanford University, the University of Southern California and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory. The antibody tests are not similar to sought-after PCR tests used to detect active infections. Instead, the kits will aim to determine the presence or absence of certain blood proteins that could show whether a person has carried the virus at any point, even if they have never shown symptoms. The results could help researchers determine the spread and strength of the pandemic.

"These tests are absolutely not getting redirected from any kind of front-line testing programs," Daniel Eichner, president of SMRTL, told ESPN.


The test kits will analyze blood from a finger prick and should offer quick results. They will look for the presence of IgM and IgG, antibodies produced during a coronavirus infection. According to a copy of the study protocol obtained by ESPN, there also will be a survey that asks for additional information, such as ethnicity, age, Zip code, recent ailments and preexisting conditions.

Researchers expect to gather the results of the tests, some of which have already been taken, later this week.

MLB is not funding the study, but researchers said it was the right candidate for a project of this magnitude because it could efficiently provide a wide range of volunteers. The study will have no impact on the timetable of baseball's return.

"MLB did not partner with us for any selfish reason to get their sport back sooner," Eichner said. "They jumped in for public health policy. That was their intention and their only intention." 


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