(WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is witnessing record breaking numbers for positive COVID-19 cases. These numbers have not been seen since earlier this year in January during our last winter coronavirus surge.

Amid the resurgence of coronavirus and its variants, vaccine rollout is vital. In the state of Massachusetts our vaccination progress reports reflect that there have been 288 thousand total doses administered from December 14 through December 21st.

That brought just under 30 thousand more people up to full vaccination for a grand total of 5.05 million people with two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or the one dose of Johnson and Johnson.

As of Friday, the state has also administered 1.8 million booster doses in all.

Most recently, the FDA has authorized Merck’s antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 for emergency use adding another tool to combat the virus.

Merck’s pill is cleared for use in adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, who are at risk for severe disease. Clinical trials have found that the treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization and death among high risk COVID-19 patients by 30 percent.

This new method can be taken at home, and doesn’t require an IV or injection. Which ultimately could help the nation’s hospitals as new infections are expected to continue to surge this winter.

The Merck authorization brings the US to two approved antiviral pills to fight COVID-19 joining Pfizer’s drug which was approved earlier this week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says it has 90 percent efficacy in preventing hospitalization. This shows great progress in the fight against coronavirus, but it may take a while to ramp up distribution.

The federal government already pre-purchased 10 million treatment courses of the Pfizer pill, but Pfizer says it will take six to eight months to manufacture all those doses.