PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — Staff from the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants joined thousands of other Major League Baseball employees to participate in a Stanford study to help scientists determine when businesses and sports should reopen across the country.

According to results from a Stanford-led study, the coronavirus has not spread widely among MLB workers.

The study tested about 5,603 MLB employees, mostly front office staff from 26 clubs, including the Giants and A’s. Only 60 people tested positive.

“Personally, I thought there would be a larger fraction. From the antibody tests we’ve done in Santa Clara, LA county, New York; there’s other groups that are doing New York and Miami-Dade, we’ve seen numbers more like three percent, four percent. In New York it’s 25 percent,” said Stanford Professor of Medicine Jay Bhattacharya.

0.7 percent of MLB employees tested positive for antibodies. Of those, 45 percent were asymptomatic. No deaths have been reported in the MLB from COVID-19.

“What this suggests first is that in some sense it’s more widespread than the number of cases we’ve seen across the country. 0.7 percent is larger than that, so in that sense, it’s more widespread. It’s also not that far widespread at all. It’s only 0.7 pecent of the MLB population,” Bhattacharya said.

Professor Bhattacharya says MLB employees are not representative of the country at large. They are mostly white-collar workers and younger than the overall population.

The survey kit had a .5 percent false positive rate.

After the Santa Clara County antibody test also conducted by Stanford raised statistical questions over errors, Professor Bhattacharya says labs around the world offered validation data on the specific test kit used.

This enhanced his confidence in the accuracy of the MLB results.

“The most vociferous criticism was that we had a wide error bound around the false positive rate for our test kit, but we’ve now narrowed that with a lot of the validation samples,” said Bhattacharya.

The professor plans to send the study to a medical journal for peer review this week.

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