These findings are supposedly a big deal because the study was the largest of its kind and used more sophisticated virus hunting techniques than ever before. And, the study was a collaboration among a several big name ME/CFS researchers.
Here's a pretty eye-catching quote from the article: "With two large sample sets turning up negative in the lab of one of most acclaimed virus hunters on the planet, it's probably safe to say that the hunt for an infectious agent in the blood of people with ME/CFS is over."
Wait, what?! If you believe that (and how do you argue with Lipkin?) then all those blood tests we've had with supposedly elevated IgG titers for EBV, HHV-6, and CMV were meaningless. These antibody tests may have suggested reactivated infections, but that was only hypothesis. This new study apparently looked for the actual presence of the viruses (which is more reliable than antibody testing) and found nothing.
Then I wondered, how do you explain why Valycte and antivirals helps so many patients? It looks like the answer might be in the part of the article where Lipkin states that they still believe an infection is the likely culprit, but it's just not present in the blood. It's likely to be a localized infection, such as an infection in the lining of the gut (as Dr. C has always maintained), or in the Vagus nerve.
To me, the results are both exciting and frustrating. I think all of our first choices would have been that the study actually found the culprit. But barring that, it feels very significant that they allegedly "ruled out" what has been a major focus of research for many years. This will hopefully allow researchers narrow in on other more fruitful areas of research going forward.