FanPost

How and When Will MLB React to FDA's recall of PCR Test Kits for Covid-19 Screening?

Today the Brewers placed Christian Yelich and Jace Peterson on the Covid List. Yelich, at least, has been reported as 'fully vaccinated'.

Besides calling into question the efficacy of the gene therapy injections administered to most players this spring, today's announcement raises the question of how much longer MLB will continue to screen players and staff using the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests which the FDA recently recalled on the grounds that they are unable to distinguish Covid from ordinary flu.

Even prior to the FDA's decision, it was already known from academic studies such as that by Stang et al. at the University of Essen that PCR tests provide an insufficient basis "for pandemic decision making, including... quarantine, isolation, and lockdown."

They made that conclusion (concurring with an earlier opinion published by the Bulgarian Pathology Association entitled "COVID19 PCR Tests are Scientifically Meaningless") largely on the basis that at high sensitivity settings ('cycle thresholds'), the majority of positive results returned by a PCR machine are in fact false positives, i.e. the individual neither has Covid nor is capable of infecting another person with the disease. Last year, the New York Times reported that most PCR tests use a cycle threshold setting of 40, despite the fact that results become wildly inaccurate with any setting over 30. To my knowledge, MLB has never specified the cycle threshold they use - or whether they even apply the same cycle threshold setting to all players' samples.

As of February this year, MLB was still using PCR technology to test for Covid and no changes to this method of testing have subsequently been announced. Notably, the FDA is permitting the continued use of PCR tests through Dec. 31, 2021 -- despite their admitted inaccuracy. While MLB could continue to use PCR testing through the end of the year while still technically following FDA guidelines, doing so would unfairly harm teams whose athletes are unnecessarily barred from playing due to false-positive test results.

Clarifying the laboratory method by which players will be tested for Covid from now through the end of the playoffs should be a priority for owners and GM's. How insane would it be to spend millions in payroll and/or prospect capital at this year's trade deadline, only to have your new star player declared ineligible on the basis of a flawed PCR test that has already been recommended for recall by the FDA?

We will never know how much the MLB's flawed PCR tests have affected the standings so far, but the least MLB can do is to stop pulling players off the field unnecessarily until they implement a transparent, medically valid system for diagnosing Covid.