Evidence of recent Epstein-Barr virus reactivation in individuals experiencing Long COVID
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) reactivation has been proposed as a driver of Long COVID (LC), but studies in well-characterized post-acute COVID-19 cohorts of individuals with and without Long COVID symptoms over a time course consistent with current case definitions of LC are limited. In a cohort of 294 hundred adults with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection, we observed that LC symptoms such as fatigue and neurocognitive dysfunction at a median of 4 months following initial diagnosis were associated with serological evidence of recent EBV reactivation (early antigen-D IgG positivity or nuclear antigen IgG levels >600 U/mL), but not with ongoing EBV viremia.. Importantly, Long COVID was also observed in the small proportion without evidence of prior or recent EBV infection, suggesting that EBV reactivation is not a prerequisite for this condition. Overall, these findings expand our knowledge of the relationships between EBV reactivation and LC and suggest that further assessment during the acute phase of COVID-19 is warranted.