An unprecedented wave of Covid cases in China has prompted panic buying of fever drugs, painkillers, and even home remedies like canned peaches, creating shortages online and in stores.
Authorities said on Wednesday they had detected 2,249 symptomatic Covid-19 cases nationwide through nucleic acid testing, 20% of which were detected in the capital Beijing. CNN reports from the city suggest case numbers in the Chinese capital could be much higher than recorded.
Support financially for fever and cold drugs like Tylenol and Advil is rising nationwide as people rush to stockpile medicines for fear of catching the virus.
Canned yellow peaches, considered a particularly nutritious delicacy in many parts of China, have been bought by people looking for ways to fight Covid. The product is currently sold out in many online shops.
The sudden surge in popularity prompted Dalian Leasun Food, one of the country’s largest canners, to clarify in a Weibo post that canned yellow peaches have no medicinal properties.
“Canned Yellow Peaches ≠ Drugs!” the company said in the Post released Friday. “There are enough supplies, so there is no need to panic. There is no rush to buy.”
The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, also attempted to set the record straight. She published a lengthy Weibo post on Sunday urging the public not to store the peaches and calling them “useless for relieving symptoms of illness.”
Authorities also appealed to the public not to stockpile medical supplies. On Monday, Beijing’s municipal government warned residents it was facing “great pressure” to meet demand for medicines and medical services due to panic buying and an influx of patients into clinics.
It urged the public not to stockpile drugs or call emergency services if they have no symptoms.
The increasing demand and shortage of The supply of Covid cures has fueled bets on drugmakers.
Shares in Hong Kong-listed Xinhua Pharmaceutical, China’s largest maker of ibuprofen, are up 60% in the past five days. The stock is up 147% in the first two weeks of this month so far.
“Our company’s production lines are running at full capacity, and we’re working overtime to produce much-needed drugs like ibuprofen tablets,” Xinhua Pharmaceutical said Monday.
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug 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 with a separate local government system. On Sunday, the city’s health chief urged the public not to panic buy drugs they don’t need and urged residents “not to overdo it.”
Fever medications such as Panadol, the local brand name for Tylenol, are out of stock in some drugstores in Hong Kong. Most of the buyers sent the drugs to their families and friends on the mainland, sales representatives told CNN.
shares of Shenzhen-listed Guizhou Bailing Group Pharmaceuticals, known for making cough syrup, is up 21% this week and is up 51% so far this month. Yiling Pharmaceutical, the sole maker of lianhua qingwen, a traditional Chinese medicine recommended by the government to treat Covid, is also up more than 30% over the past month.
Providers of funeral services and burial sites have also received an enormous boost. Shares in Hong Kong-traded Fu Shou Yuan International, China’s largest funeral home, are up more than 50% since last month.
2023 will see “strong pent-up demand for burial sites,” analysts at Citi Group said in a recent research report, adding that they’d noticed increasing investor interest in the sector.
They cited the existence of hundreds of thousands of cremated remains temporarily stored in government facilities awaiting burial. Lockdowns across much of the country have halted funeral services, they said.