An unprecedented wave of Covid cases in China has prompted panic buying of fever medicine, pain relievers, and even home remedies like canned peaches, leading to shortages online and in stores.
Authorities said on Wednesday they had detected 2,249 symptomatic cases of Covid-19 nationwide through nucleic acid tests, 20% of which were detected in the capital Beijing. CNN reports from the city indicate that the case count in the Chinese capital could be much higher than recorded.
Ask of fever and cold medicines, such as Tylenol and Advil, is increasing nationally as people rush to stock up on medicines for fear of catching the virus.
Canned yellow peaches, considered a particularly nutritious delicacy in many parts of China, have been snapped up by people looking for ways to fight covid. The product is currently out of stock in many online stores.
Its sudden rise in popularity led Dalian Leasun Food, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of canned food, to clarify in a Weibo post that canned yellow peaches have no medicinal effect.
“Canned yellow peaches ≠ medicines!” the company said in the post published Friday. “There is enough supply, so there is no need to panic. There is no rush to buy.
The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, also tried to set the record straight. public a long Weibo post on Sunday he urged the public not to hoard peaches, calling them “useless in alleviating the symptoms of the disease.”
Authorities also asked the public not to hoard medical supplies. On Monday, the Beijing city government warned residents facing “great pressure” to meet demand for medicines and medical services due to panic buying and influx of patients at clinics.
He urged the public not to hoard drugs or call emergency services if they don’t have symptoms.
The growing demand and shortage of the supply of covid remedies has boosted bets by drugmakers.
Shares of Hong Kong-listed Xinhua Pharmaceutical, China’s biggest maker of ibuprofen, have gained 60% in the past five days. So far, the stock is up 147% in the first two weeks of this month.
“Our company’s production lines are operating at full capacity and we are working overtime to produce urgently needed medicines such as ibuprofen tablets,” Xinhua Pharmaceutical said on Monday.
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication used to treat pain and fever. It is also known as Advil, Brufen, or Fenbid.
Drug shortages have spread from mainland China to Hong Kong, a special administrative region that has an independent system of local government. On Sunday, the city’s health chief urged the public to refrain from panic buying cold medicines they don’t need and urged residents “not to overdo it.”
In some Hong Kong pharmacies, fever medicines like Panadol, the local brand of Tylenol, have been sold out. Most of the buyers shipped the drugs to family and friends on the mainland, sales representatives told CNN.
Actions of Shenzhen-listed Guizhou Bailing Group Pharmaceuticals, known for making cough syrup, has gained 21% this week and 51% year-to-date this month. Yiling Pharmaceutical, the sole producer of Lianhua Qingwen, a traditional Chinese medicine recommended by the government to treat covid, has also risen more than 30% in the past month.
Even funeral service providers and funeral grounds have gotten a big boost. Shares of Hong Kong-listed Fu Shou Yuan International, China’s largest funeral services company, have soared more than 50% since last month.
There is “strong pent-up demand for burial plots” in 2023, Citi Group analysts said in a recent research report, adding that they have noted growing investor interest in the sector.
They cited the existence of hundreds of thousands of cremated remains, which are temporarily stored in government facilities awaiting burial. Lockdowns across much of the country have halted funeral services, they said.