Team ‘Stranion’ attacks COVID-19 with information

Milford. Milford Mayor Sean Strub and infectious disease specialist Dr. Doug Manion have teamed up to provide the community with clear, fear-allaying information about the pandemic and how it affects the community. Their latest talk explains the benefits and limits of antibody testing, and how you can get tested locally.

| 27 May 2020 | 02:16

“Stranion” -- the dynamic duo of Milford Mayor Sean Strub and infectious disease specialist and Milford resident Dr. Doug Manion -- have so far done 24 informative and fear-allaying talks on the coronavirus and how it affects the community. They appear on Radio Bold ( every Monday for a COVID-19 podcast, and they’ve done at least six or seven Zoom calls on different aspects of the pandemic as it affects Milford and the rest of Pike County.

Both Strub and Manion are committed to their research.

“I live and breathe it (COVID 19) 24/7,” said Manion. “I can wax poetic about various vaccines.”

Indeed, his presentation is not only clear and non-threatening but often humorous. He has a slightly lilting rising intonation at the end of most sentences which seems to say, “Am I making it clear? Do you understand?”

Their latest Zoom call on May 21 dealt with everything you wanted to know about coronavirus antibody testing: what it is, how to interpret its results, and how and where to get tested locally.

What antibody test results mean

The antibody test is a blood test that will reveal whether the person has had previous exposure to the virus. Antibodies latch on to the presence of a foreign substance (antigens) and attack the cells of the virus. Here are what the test results mean:

● A positive test: If the antibody test is positive, get tested for COVID 19 immediately, Dr. Manion advises. A person can still also be positive for the virus under certain circumstances.

● A negative test: If the antibody test is negative, you should also get tested for the virus. This is because it takes about 7 to 14 days for the immune system to form antibodies, and you can have the virus before the antibodies are formed. The antibody test is not a diagnostic; if you think you have an active infection or are feeling sick, you should have the virus test, which is a nose or throat swab test, since the virus replicates in the nose or throat. You should contact your doctor in any case.

● An equivocal test: If the antibody test is equivocal, it means there weren’t enough antibodies in the sample to make a determination, even when there are more than zero.

Some tests taken off the market

There are many antibody tests, but only a few are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You can get tested at any Lab Corp or Quest with the FDA-approved Abbott igG test.

Lab Corp has offices in Newton, N.J., and Dingmans Ferry, Pa. Quest is in Newton, N.J., and Middletown, N.Y. Both labs require an appointment ,and Lab Corp requires a doctor’s prescription. Quest doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription. Lab Corp will bill you and Quest requires prepayment of $119.

This week, the FDA took 28 antibody tests off the market that it had previously approved for emergency use. Certain tests, like those made by Abbott, Roche, and Cellex, have a higher level of FDA approval because of their high sensitivity and specificity levels. These tests have FDA approval and are being used locally by LabCorp and Quest.

“The scientific community and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) are still trying to figure out the utility of these tests, and clearly the lower the number of patients in a community who have actually have the antibodies, the greater the impact of the impact of the accuracy of the test,” said Dr. Manion. “Most importantly, people should not rely on antibody tests to determine that they may have been infected in the past and may be immune, because we don’t know that for sure. As an infectious disease specialist, I can say you really need to follow up with a viral test.”

Test inflates the total

One of the larger problems with the antibody test is that Pennsylvania is one of four states that has included positive COVID-19 antibody tests as part of its case count. So if a person tests positive on the antibody test and then tests positive on the virus swab test, that counts as two cases, which is misleading and unfairly affects the number of cases per 100,000 population to move the county from red to yellow. It has to be even lower, to move from yellow to green.

Strub said the Milford Covid Relief Fund, with a grant from the Great Pike Foundation, will pay for antibody tests for borough employees, including office staff, the Milford Police Department, the Milford Fire Department, and the Milford Water Authority.

If you want the swab test to determine whether you have the virus, you need to do it through your doctor. Also, Dr. Lisa Pathak of the Dingmans Medical Center will do this test, but you need a televisit first.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced that, as of May 29, Pike County will enter the yellow re-opening stage. Dr. Manion believes there will be spikes in new cases if people are not careful when they are out and about, leading to another shutdown again. Both Strub and Manion implored people to still wear their masks.

Test providers:
Dr. Lisa Pathak, Dingmans Medical Center, 1592 PA-739, Dingmans Ferry, Pa. Call 570-828-8000.
LabCorp, Dingmans Medical Center, 1592 PA-739, Dingmans Ferry, Pa. Call 570-828-8000.
LabCorp, 227 Newton Sparta Road #8, Newton, N.J. Call 973-579-0010.
Quest Diagnostics, 125 Newton Sparta Road, Newton N.J. Call 973-383-3907.
Quest Diagnostics, 22 Grove Street, Middletown, N.Y. Call 845-343-0875.