I WOULDN'T blame anybody reading this column to have developed COVID fatigue. Not the lingering illness, but rather being fed up of hearing about a topic which has restructured our entire way of living. But please don’t turn over the page just yet.

How to interpret the COVID antibody test is important. Currently there are two methods of detecting exposure to COVID-19. The nasopharyngeal swab test looks for active infection. If you have been infected with COVID-19, the body’s natural immune system reacts to mount a response against the invading virus. Antibodies are part of this response.

A positive antibody test means that you have been exposed to the virus, even if you have not been aware of it or had any symptoms. A negative antibody test means you have not been exposed to the virus or have not produced enough antibodies, or they have dwindled over time.

While infection with some viruses, notably measles, confers lifelong immunity, children can be repeatedly infected with the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) within the same winter. So, the immune system could be considered to have a selective memory, remembering some viruses for a lifetime, while seemingly forgetting others rapidly.

It is unclear whether the presence of antibodies actually confers the individual with immunity against COVID-19. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “confirmed and suspected cases of reinfection have been reported, but remain rare”.

Secondly, and of equal importance, a positive antibody test is no guarantee that you cannot pass on the virus to others. Antibodies become undetectable more commonly in the over 65 age group, some of whom will be among the frailer members of society, following guidelines on hand hygiene, so face coverings and maintaining social distancing makes even more sense.

Furthermore, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show two thirds of those with positive nasopharyngeal swab tests didn’t report any of the main symptoms of the disease itself. The measures advised by the Government are as much to protect others as they are for your own safety.

Does the revelation of dwindling antibodies scupper the chances of vaccine success? According to experts, the answer is thankfully “No”. With T cell responses lasting longer than antibodies, it is hoped that this may hold the key to vaccine development.