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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

Details: Fully vaccinated travelers will need to complete pre-departure testing within three days prior to their departure to the U.S. They will not be required to quarantine upon their arrival.

  • Zients said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will determine the definition of "fully vaccinated" and what vaccines qualify for this policy.
  • The CDC will issue a contact tracing order requiring airlines to collect current information from each U.S.-bound traveler, including a phone number and email address.
  • "This will enable the CDC and state and local public health officials to follow up with inbound travelers and those around them if someone has potentially been exposed to COVID-19," Zients said.

What they're saying: "This new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans and international air travel safe," Zients said.

  • "By requiring foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated in order to fly into the United States, and implementing additional strict safety protocols, we will protect Americans here at home and enhance the safety of international travel," he added.

The big picture: European officials had expressed serious frustrations at the Biden administration’s refusal to lift the EU travel ban, which was put in place under former President Trump in March 2020.

  • Those frustrations intensified after the EU surpassed the U.S. in vaccinations.
  • EU Home Commissioner Ylva Johansson told Axios earlier this month that she had received no explanation on why the ban remained from U.S. officials, and that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas simply told her it was “very complicated.”
  • The breakthrough comes just days after France recalled its ambassador to the U.S. over separate tensions regarding the U.S.-U.K.-Australia security partnership.
    • When asked if the decision was politically motivated due to the current tensions with France, Zients said the decision was "based on public health." He added it was also based on "individuals rather than on a country-based approach."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated are over 11 times more likely to die from COVID

Expand chart
Reproduced from CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The CDC recently published data evaluating Americans' rate of coronavirus cases and deaths by vaccine status, providing more data on which vaccines are working best and how much protection they offer relative to being unvaccinated.

What they found: As of August, unvaccinated people had a more than six times higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus, and were more than 11 times more likely to die from the virus.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
19 hours ago - Health

COVID vaccine mix-and-matching gains momentum

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

The FDA and CDC will likely allow some flexibility for recipients of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 to mix and match vaccine boosters, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told ABC News' '"This Week" on Sunday.

Yes, but: The FDA still needs to look at all the data before making a formal authorization, he said.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns — New cases down
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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