(WSVN) - People who continue to suffer debilitating symptoms after recovering from COVID-19 have what’s called COVID long-haul syndrome. But now, a South Florida doctor is giving them a healthy dose of hope after an eight-week clinical trial. 7’s Kevin Ozebek has the story.
This is Eli Musser in early March.
He was weak and had trouble walking. He had lingering COVID symptoms, even though he caught the virus almost a year earlier.
Eli Musser, back in March: “It just feels like I weigh a thousand pounds, and shortness of breath, absolutely debilitating.”
But now, Musser is starting to feel like his old self again. He is taking part in an FDA-approved trial for the drug Leronlimab.
Dr. Norman Gaylis, conducted long-haul trial: “How are you feeling?”
Eli Musser: “Better. Every couple of days I notice an improvement.”
Dr. Norman Gaylis, with the Arthritis and Rheumatic Disease Specialties, conducted the trial.
It was a double-blind study, meaning half of the patients received Leronlimab. The other half got a placebo, which contained no medicine, and the doctors administering the drug didn’t know which patients got which.
Dr. Norman Gaylis: “This study was very challenging because of the complexity of the long-hauler syndrome, because of the complexity of the drug and because we were dealing with a double-blinded study which, to this day, we don’t know who was on drug and who was on placebo.”
Once a week for eight weeks, patients came to the clinic for the injections. Some showed immediate improvement.
Dr. Norman Gaylis: “It’s fair for me to say that when I’ve seen some of the patients responding, the response has been way above and beyond what you would expect from placebo.”
Musser started feeling better six weeks into the study. Now he’s back on his feet after an extended stay in South Florida just for the trial.
He’s excited to return home to New York with his fiancée Megan.
Eli Musser: “Just small things, making dinner. I mean, it’s emotional for me. It sounds so simple, but I haven’t done those things in a year, so I’m ready.”
Then there are the patients who did not see improvement.
Melissa Pardo: “I think I’m placebo.”
Pardo was suffering from headaches, brain fog and fatigue when she entered the trial in March.
Melissa Pardo: “I’ve had a few days where I do feel better, but then I do have days of regression.”
Still, she’s working hard to get stronger and is glad she participated in the trial.
Melissa Pardo: “Perhaps I am on the drug and the dosing just didn’t work for me, but that’s why clinical trials exist — to figure out what the right balance is for patients.”
Dr. Gaylis will find out soon who actually got the drug. After that, he hopes a new study is approved that will focus on dosing and how often patients should get the treatment.
Dr. Norman Gaylis: “By the end of the summer we should be in a position, hopefully, to really be able to answer what’s the best dose and maybe that one dose doesn’t fit all.”
But there is something for all from this trial: hope that someday long-haul syndrome could be a thing of the past.
The study will be revealed sometime next month. It’s hoped that those who got the placebo will then have the opportunity to participate in a new trial with the drug.
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