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Epstein-Barr & Long COVID: What We Know in 2023

Epstein-Barr & Long COVID: What We Know So Far in 2023

Early in the pandemic, a group of researchers at the University of California at San Francisco formed an independent organization known as LIINC (“Long-Term Impact of Infection with Novel Coronavirus”) to examine the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2. Since then, the team’s studies have produced some key findings about patterns of EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) activation in people affected by Long COVID.

Keep reading to learn about the study’s implications for chronic fatigue, brain fog, and EBV activation in Long COVID patients in 2023.

Key Findings in the 2023 LIINC Study

The study conducted by LIINC has already various key findings about Long COVID, including:

Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation

In examining patterns of EBV activation in Long COVID patients, researchers discovered:

  • Gut microbes leaking into the blood
  • Persistent immune activation
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Profound immune dysregulation
  • Reduced exercise capacity

Not only did researchers confirm a connection between EBV reactivation and Long COVID, but they also discovered that EBV reactivation was associated with increased fatigue and neurocognitive symptoms in Long COVID patients.

EBV Reactivation & Chronic Illnesses

An important takeaway to keep in mind is that active EBV was not found in the individuals affected by Long COVID; rather, the immune response was the factor causing the issue, raising even more concerns about the impact of Long COVID on dormant viruses in the body.

So far, at least 5 studies have demonstrated the connection between EBV reactivation in Long COVID patients. This is nothing new, as EBV reactivation has also been observed in patients with autoimmune diseases, immunocompromised individuals, during hormonal changes, in ME/CFS patients, and in times of extreme stress (interestingly enough, both of the body’s major stress response axes, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and autonomic nervous system, are impaired in individuals affected by ME/CFS.

Epstein-Barr Virus: Not Limited to Long COVID

Sadly, the antivirals used to treat these affected individuals with chronic conditions are not very effective. More funding and research are needed to establish viable alternatives—preferably sooner rather than later, given that EBV reactivation has already been linked to infectious mononucleosis, cancer, ME/CFS, autoimmune diseases, and now Long COVID.

“The findings—some from very good studies—that an EBV subset exists in Long COVID should be catnip for the NIH RECOVER program,” reads an article by Health Rising, one of the most-visited websites devoted to ME/CFS.

The RECOVER Initiative was founded by the National Institutes of Public Health (NIH) to learn more about the long-term effects of Long COVID. So far, over 23,000 people have volunteered to participate in this groundbreaking study.

“If RECOVER really takes EBV on, we should rather quickly learn much about the impact EBV is doing, why people with Long COVID—and likely people with ME/CFS—are so susceptible to it, and ultimately learn how to effectively treat it,” the article goes on to say. “That could be a huge benefit for Long COVID and ME/CFS.”

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