(WSVN) - Some COVID patients still have symptoms for months even after they recover. It’s called COVID long-haul syndrome. A South Florida doctor is overseeing a new study that’s providing hope for “long-haulers.” 7’s Kevin Ozebek was granted exclusive access to the trial.

Melissa Pardo came down with COVID-19 last November. She tested negative and went back to work, but never fully recovered.

Melissa Pardo: “I realized that something was off neurologically. I just couldn’t concentrate. I’ve even, unfortunately, been driving and forgotten that I’m the person actually driving the car.”

Eli Musser and his fiancée Megan have put their wedding plans on hold because Eli is still struggling almost a year after he caught the virus.

Eli Musser: “It just feels like I weigh a thousand pounds, and shortness of breath, which also goes with this sort of like muscular fatigue. Absolutely debilitating and devastating.”

Eli and Melissa are “long-haulers,” a term used to describe the roughly 10% of COVID patients who keep having symptoms long after testing negative.

Dr. Norman Gaylis, rheumatologist: “I’ve never seen anything that is as varied and as unpredictable as these so-called ‘long-haulers.'”

Dr. Norman Gaylis with Arthritis & Rheumatic Disease Specialties is now conducting a trial, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, with a drug called leronlimab. He’s hoping it will ease the suffering of “long-haulers.”

Dr. Norman Gaylis: “We are very excited to give our patients this opportunity to see whether this drug is going to reduce their symptoms, because their symptoms are literally debilitating. This is a so-called double blind placebo study, which means we don’t know who’s getting drug and who’s getting placebo.”

Melissa and Eli are the first two patients to participate in the study. 7News was given exclusive access to the first day of the trial.

Dr. Norman Gaylis: “We’re about to give you the first injection that we’ve been waiting for how many months?”

Once a week for eight weeks, they’ll get two injections in the abdomen.

Eli Musser: “I really hope that this is sort of the first generalized study treatment that will be able to cover many, many bases for many of us, because we’re all in the same boat.”

Eli moved here temporarily from New York City to be included in the study. Melissa will be driving over every week from Marco Island.

Melissa Pardo: “When I read about this trial, I immediately reached out, because it felt like maybe there is some promise.”

Twenty-five people who suffer with COVID long haul symptoms will be selected for the study.

Dr. Norman Gaylis: “If anybody in the South Florida area is interested, we’d absolutely be happy to screen them over the phone.”

The study is now giving hope to those who continue to suffer long after the virus is gone.

If you’re interested in participating in the study, proof of a positive COVID or antibody test is required.

Arthritis & Rheumatic Disease Specialties

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