The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the face of Europe. Member States’ divergent responses to this crisis reveal a lack of unity in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe. At best, this undermines the effectiveness of health protection within the European Union (EU). At worst, it risks breaking up the Union altogether. Divergent national responses to COVID-19 reflect different national preferences and political legitimacy, and thus cannot be completely avoided. In this article, we argue that these responses should be better coordinated. Without coordination, the price for diversity is high. Firstly, there are damaging spill-overs between Member States, which undermine key pillars of European integration such as the free movement of persons and of goods. Secondly, national policy-making is easily captured by local interest groups. Our proposal is that the EU indicates – not mandates – a European exit strategy from asymmetric containment policies of COVID-19. In particular, the EU should help Member States procure and validate tests for infection and immunity. The EU should also indicate ways in which testing could be used to create safe spaces to work, thereby restoring the free movement of persons and of goods. We see a great advantage in such EU guidance: it could improve mutual learning between Member States, which have faced different timings of the epidemic and learned different lessons. Although the local political economy has so far delayed learning and undermined cooperation, the EU can mitigate both effects and indicate the way for Europe to resurrect united from the ashes of COVID-19.