An unexpected wave of COVID cases in China has triggered panic buying of fever drugs, pain relievers, and even home solutions like canned peaches, resulting in online and in-store shortages.
Demand for fever and cold medications such as Tylenol and Advil is skyrocketing across the country as individuals hoard pills out of fear of contracting the virus.
Canned yellow peaches, a highly nutritious delicacy in many parts of China, have been purchased by people looking for strategies to combat COVID. Many online stores are currently sold out of the product.
Because of its sudden popularity, Dalian Leasun Food, one of the country's top canned food makers, clarified in a Weibo post that canned yellow peaches have no therapeutic value.
"Canned yellow peaches ≠ medicines!" the company said in the post. "There is enough supply, so there is no need to panic. There is no rush to buy."
The People's Daily also tried to set the record straight. It published a long Weibo post on Sunday urging the public not to stockpile the peaches, calling them "useless in alleviating symptoms of illness."
Authorities also urged people to refrain from hoarding medical supplies. The Beijing municipal government issued a warning to citizens on Monday, stating that it was under "great pressure" to meet the demand for drugs and medical services due to panic buying and a surge in patients at clinics.
It advised people not to stockpile medications or dial emergency service if they are not experiencing any symptoms.
Bets on drugmakers have increased as a result of the rising demand and limited availability of COVID treatments.
Shares of Hong Kong-listed Xinhua Pharmaceutical, China's largest ibuprofen manufacturer, have increased by 60% in the last five days. In the first two weeks of this month, the stock had risen 147%.
"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 Monday.
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication that is used to relieve pain and fever. It is also referred to as Advil, Brufen, or Fenbid.
The medicine scarcity has moved from mainland China to Hong Kong, a special administrative area with its own local government system. On Sunday, the city's health official warned citizens not to panic buy cold drugs they don't need and to "not overreact."
Even providers of funeral services and burial grounds have seen significant growth. Fu Shou Yuan International, China's largest funeral service provider, has seen its stock price rise by more than 50% since last month.