The bloc’s executive body has said that nearly 80% of the European Union’s population is estimated to have been infected by COVID-19. The figures were reached by calculating the unreported infections that could be as high as 350 million or 77% of Europe’s population, the European Commission said, Bloomberg reported.

As the EU prepares to enter a post-emergency phase in which mass reporting of cases is no longer necessary, the government is expected to ramp up vaccination of children against the novel coronavirus, a senior official of the European Commission said.

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“It is estimated that between 60% to 80% of the EU population has by now had COVID,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said. The commission said reported cases covered about 30% of the European population so far.

Bloomberg also reported that the bloc is now shifting away from mass testing and reporting of cases.

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However, as fresh surges are likely with the virus expected to continue mutating, countries should have in place plans to shift back into emergency mode, and ramp up vaccinations, the commission said.

The bloc has been urging governments to continue pushing for the immunisation of the unvaccinated, especially children before the start of the new school term in the autumn.

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Immunisation rates are below 15% among children aged between five and nine, the youngest age group for which COVID-19 vaccines have been authorised in Europe.

The commission also said it could back the development of new drugs against COVID-19, especially antivirals that are easier to store and administer.

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Antiviral pills against COVID-19 developed by Pfizer and Merck & Co have been approved for use in the European Union, but they have not been used in large quantities so far.