FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Remdesivir is now the first COVID-19 treatment approved by the FDA.

The antiviral was approved for use in emergency situations back in the spring, but doctors tell CBS 11 this new move will help them get the treatment to patients faster.

“This means not only will more people be able to benefit from this therapy, but they’ll be able to benefit from it earlier in the course and that’s really important,” said Dr. Robert Gottlieb, the principal investigator for several COVID studies at Baylor Scott and White Research Institute.

The drug is approved for patients 12 years and older who are hospitalized because of the infection. It’s given through an IV.

Remdesivir (credit: Gilead)

Dr. Gottlieb said the next step would be to find a way to use it in an outpatient setting.

“Can you get to the point where you can just fill a prescription, go to your Walgreens, CVS or Baylor Scott and White Pharmacy, get it off the shelf and have it start working as soon as possible?”

The drug works by blocking the virus from replicating.

In a large study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, researchers found the antiviral cut recovery time by five days– from 15 to 10 days on average.

Dr. Gottlieb warned, however, this is not the time for people to let their guard down.

It’s just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

“This is an improvement, this is not perfection,” he said.

There are several clinical trials available for outpatients, but patients need to be early in their diagnosis.

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