Blue Jays’ Bichette says he has antibodies from asymptomatic COVID-19 case

TORONTO — Bo Bichette had an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 discovered when he was found to have long-term antibodies during spring training, the Toronto Blue Jays shortstop revealed Monday.

When he contracted the virus is unknown but the presence of the antibodies — proteins created by the immune system to fight off infection — can provide protection against getting the disease again.

As it relates to COVID-19, the United States’ Centers For Disease Control and Prevention says that how much immunity antibodies provide is unclear and that “confirmed and suspected cases of reinfection have been reported, but remain rare.”

Some studies suggest immunity may last up to eight months, leading Bichette to say, “I’m in the clear for now.”

Florida opened vaccinations to anyone 18 and over Monday and the Blue Jays are making plans for interested players to receive their shots when the club returns to Dunedin for its home opener Thursday. Major League Baseball teams that hit an 85 per cent threshold are allowed to ease the strict protocols under which they’ve been operating.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about it as a team,” said Bichette. “Personally, I already have long-term antibodies so it’s not necessarily an immediate decision for me. A lot of guys should be getting it and hopefully we can get some protocols lifted for the team.”

Bichette was speaking before the start of a three-game series against the Texas Rangers, who opened Globe Life Field to its full capacity of 40,300 for the opener, a decision criticized by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reopened the state March 2, issuing an executive order for all counties not deemed to have high hospitalizations to lift mask mandates and operating restrictions for businesses.

The Washington Nationals, who are only beginning their season Tuesday due to an outbreak, and Vancouver Canucks, who have 16 players on the NHL’s COVID protocol list, are both reminders that perils remain, even if there’s more confidence in this season versus last.

“It definitely has a bit of a different feel,” Bichette said of the year-to-year difference. “People are a little bit more comfortable with knowing what the virus is, knowing that there’s vaccines out. But at the same time, like you said about the Canucks and the Nationals, we’ve still got to make sure we’re safe, make sure we’re following protocols to keep the team on the field. We’re still doing that, and I have confidence in everybody that we’ll be able to do it.”

As for playing in a stadium near or at capacity, Bichette didn’t sound concerned.

“The dugout is pretty secure from fans,” he said. “So I don’t think it should be a problem.”

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