In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. Given through an IV, the medication is designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material. Credit: Gilead Sciences via AP

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A batch of the first drug found to have an effect against the coronavirus is on its way to Maine hospitals.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday received and distributed 10 cases of the drug Remdesivir to Maine hospitals. A National Institutes of Health study has found that Remdesivir accelerates the recovery of patients with COVID-19, making it the first treatment available specifically for the new coronavirus.

About 50 patients with extreme COVID-19 symptoms can be treated using the 10 cases of Remdesivir that Maine CDC received and distributed to hospitals. The drug, manufactured by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc., is the only COVID-19 treatment that has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration after the NIH study found that patients who received it recovered 31 percent faster than those who received a placebo.

The NIH continues to study remdesivir, but preliminary research has proven that it has some effectiveness against the coronavirus, said Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah.

“Once all the science is in, we’ll have a better sense of the true efficacy,” Shah said. “But right now we wanted to get it into the hands of doctors as soon as possible.”

The FDA’s approval allows doctors to start administering the drug intravenously to treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms.

Doctors across the country are unsure which patients should get the drug since there isn’t enough to treat every patient who is eligible, STAT News reported.

However, only 37 people in Maine were hospitalized due to COVID-19 on Tuesday, with 17 in critical care and eight on ventilators.

Animal trials conducted by the NIH found that the antiviral drug reduced lung damage caused by the coronavirus. Maine Medical Center in Portland enrolled three patients in a clinical trial for Remdesivir last month.

Watch: What will it take for COVID-19 to go away?

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