Health Canada will allow the conditional use of the drug remdesivir to treat people suffering from severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Originally developed to treat Ebola, researchers at the University of Alberta discovered it could help speed up the recovery of people seriously ill with the coronavirus.

Remdesivir is the first drug that Health Canada has authorized for the treatment of COVID-19.

It is for patients with severe symptoms who have pneumonia and require extra oxygen to help them breathe.

The drug interferes with the coronavirus’s ability to copy its genetic material.

A study in the US found that remdesivir shortened recovery time by 31 percent.

Health Canada says the drug is for use in adults and adolescents 12 years and older with a bodyweight of at least 40 kilograms.

The department says the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences Canada, has not sought approval to treat children or pregnant women.

Remdesivir will be used only in hospitals where patients can be closely monitored.

The drug has received emergency or conditional authorization in the US, Europe, Japan, Singapore, and Australia.

Though Canada has now approved it for use, acquiring the drug in large supply may be difficult because the United State bought nearly all of the world’s supply in late June.