DENVER (KDVR) — A new federally funded $3.2 billion program is helping support the development of an antiviral pill to help treat COVID-19.

If all goes as planned, the Department of Health and Human Resources is hoping to have some sort of oral medication available by the end of the year.

There are a few clinical trials underway already.

A series of other viruses, such as: the flu, HIV and Hepatitis C can already be treated with a pill.

“We can use a pill as post exposure medication. For example, we do that in influenza patients. In a nursing home, if somebody comes down with influenza – then the other people who have been in association with the person who had the flu – take the pill to prevent them from the influenza,” said Dr. Lakshmi Chauhan, an infectious disease expert with UCHealth.

The Federal Government has already purchased 1.7 million doses of an antiviral drug from Merck which could help treat some COVID-19 symptoms.

Locally, UCHealth might be playing a role in all of this.

“In our university we have requests from different companies who have repurposed some drugs. I’m not saying it’s a brand new drug – just out of some trials that we have been considering and we’ll see how it comes along. It’s still a long process to get approval from the FDA and to get trials started,” said Chauhan.

The goal is to have an easy to access oral medication anyone can pick up at a pharmacy by the end of the year.

Last year, the Government spent $18 billion to develop COVID-19 vaccines.