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German Health Minister Jens Spahn. Photo: Mika Schmidt - Pool/Getty Images

COVID-19 cases are spiking at an "exponential rate" in Germany and there may not be enough vaccine doses to avoid a third wave, German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned at a press conference on Friday, according to Deutsche Welle.

Why it matters: The deteriorating health situation means that Germany may need to consider more restrictive measures, halting reopening plans, Spahn noted.

  • On Monday Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to meet with governors of Germany's 16 states, where they will discuss the possibility of a new lockdown, NPR reports.

What they're saying: "There are not yet enough vaccine doses in Europe to stop the third wave by vaccination alone," Spahn said.

  • "Even if the deliveries from EU orders come reliably, it will still take a few weeks until the risk groups are fully vaccinated."
  • "The rising case numbers may mean that we are unable to take any further steps towards opening up in the weeks to come. On the contrary, we may even have to take steps backwards," Spahn said.

He added that he would be in favor of Germany signing a deal with Russia to obtain doses of its Sputnik V vaccine.

  • "I am actually very much in favor of us doing it nationally if the European Union does not do something."

The big picture: On Friday Lars Schaade, vice president of Germany's Robert Koch Institute, warned that the spread of COVID-19 variants means "there are difficult weeks ahead."

  • "It is very possible that we will have a similar situation over Easter to the one we had before Christmas, with very high case numbers, many severe cases and deaths and hospitals that are overwhelmed."

What to watch: Experts have warned that the rising case numbers in Europe may soon be reflected in the U.S.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

4 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

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