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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The EU unveiled its proposal for vaccine passports this week, offering the most detailed picture yet of how international travel might resume in the coming months.

Why it matters: People are desperate to travel, and tourism-reliant countries like Greece are desperate to receive them. Vaccines should provide a path out of closed borders and mandatory quarantines, but there’s no universal way to track who has actually been vaccinated.

Driving the news: The EU “Green Certificate” — available in digital or paper form — would allow all EU residents to prove that they’ve been vaccinated, recently tested negative, or already recovered from COVID-19. The aim is to roll out the passports before the summer travel season.

  • The European Commission suggests that those who’ve had an EU-approved vaccine be free to cross borders without any quarantine requirements.
  • People from outside the EU, including Americans, could also potentially benefit from the system when traveling to Europe.

Yes, but: Some EU members, including Hungary, are using Chinese or Russian vaccines, which won’t automatically be covered by the passport.

  • It’s also not clear how long immunity lasts or how effective vaccines are at preventing transmission, further complicating the passport picture.
  • There are also ethical concerns about opening up travel to people fortunate enough to be vaccinated when access varies so widely around the world.

But some airlines and airports are already starting to roll out a global platform called CommonPass, which allows people to digitally document their COVID-19 status — through test results and, eventually, vaccinations — while protecting their health data privacy, Axios transportation correspondent Joann Muller notes.

  • Several other such systems are currently in development.

What to watch: While vaccine passports have a clear application in international travel, it’s less clear if and how they’ll feature in day-to-day life.

  • Israelis can already show a QR code at bars, gyms and theaters to reveal their vaccination status and enter if they’ve received both doses.
  • But the barriers to such a system being widely rolled out in the U.S. are probably too high, Axios’ Bryan Walsh writes.

Go deeper

Updated 2 mins ago - World

Over 70 dead in worst bombardments between Israel and Hamas for years

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli fighter jets conducted airstrikes in Gaza on May 13, 2021. Israeli forces said on May 12 they had killed a senior Hamas commander and bombed several buildings. Gaza's health ministry has said children are among the dead. Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

At least 67 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in fighting between Israel's military and Hamas since Monday, per Reuters.

The big picture: The worst aerial exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas since 2014 continued into early Thursday. It come days after escalating violence in Jerusalem that injured hundreds of Palestinians and several Israeli police officers during protests over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Don McGahn agrees to closed-door interview with House panel on Russia report

Former White House counsel Don McGahn during a discussion at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former White House counsel Don McGahn agreed Wednesday to speak with the House Judiciary Committee about the Russia investigation that led to the impeachment trial of former President Trump — with certain conditions, per a court filing.

Why it matters: The agreement ends a two-year standoff after McGahn, a key player in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, repeatedly refused to agree to a subpoena for testimony — resulting in the matter being taken to court.

3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 pandemic was "preventable disaster," WHO-commissioned report says

A health worker gives a COVID-19 test to a woman in Oakland, California. Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

The COVID-19 pandemic was a "preventable disaster" that exposed weak links "at every point" of the preparedness process, according to a World Health Organization-commissioned report published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response criticized governments worldwide for being unprepared for the pandemic despite the prevalence of past "global health threats," such as Ebola, Zika, and SARS outbreaks.