CHICAGO (CBS) — We could be just weeks away from having the first FDA-approved coronavirus treatment that patients can receive at home.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey has the details on what could be the first COVID pill.

Merck has asked the FDA for an emergency use authorization for the first pill to treat COVID after clinical trials showed it helped save lives.

“Dramatically, by 50%, reduced hospitalizations and deaths.  So an oral pill that works against COVID-19 hospitalization,” said CBS News Medical Contributor Dr. David Agus.

Current treatments such as Regeneron require patients to receive infusions.  The Merck drug could be given at home, relieving the crush of COVID cases in hospitals.

“As soon it’s FDA approved, we can start to prescribe it to patients,” Agus said. “Rather than them having to come into an emergency room and be given intravenous therapy of an anti-body or a shot of an anti-body, they can get a pill.”

Health officials said the new COVID treatment is exciting, but they said the best measure against COVID is still for people to get vaccinated.

“We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten vaccinated,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Vaccine hesitancy is even greater among parents debating whether their children should get the vaccine if the FDA approves it for kids five to 11.

A new CBS poll shows 35% of parents surveyed said they will not let their children get the vaccine. Twenty-six percent said they were unsure.

“I think there’s a lot of information available. It certainly makes me confident about vaccinating my kids. And for those parents who still have a lot of questions. I would urge them to have a discussion with their pediatrician about the pros and cons of vaccination,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commission and Pfizer Board Member)

Politics is one of the key factors in whether parents will vaccinate their children with 61% of Democrats saying yes and 56% of Republican parents saying no.

The FDA will meet two weeks from Tuesday to discuss whether to approve the vaccine for children. Meanwhile, the government has already ordered enough of the Merck pills to treat 1.7 million Americans and will distribute them to the states if the FDA approves its use.

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