Omicron wave has caused shortages of paracetamol and ibuprofen

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  • Richard Wilding
    British academic and business professional specialising in logistics, transport and supply chain management
Stocks of paracetamol and ibuprofen are low, ONS data has revealed   (PA)
Stocks of paracetamol and ibuprofen are low, ONS data has revealed (PA)

Shops have been suffering from shortages of paracetamol and ibuprofen during the Omicron wave, new data has revealed.

Paracetamol is the scarcest item on shop shelves, according to the Office for National Statistics, with low or no stocks at three in 10 stores as the new variant spread.

Meanwhile, a fifth of shops are experiencing shortages of ibuprofen, and supplies of toilet rolls and fresh fish are also low, ONS data up to 10 January found.

Shortages of paracetamol have worsened since the emergence of the Omicron variant, with 15 per cent of shops lacking stocks of the painkiller in November.

Professor Richard Wilding, a supply chain expert at Cranfield University, said Brits having booster vaccines to combat the spread of the new variant along with high levels of cold, flu and Covid is likely to be causing low supplies in shops.

He told The Mirror: “People are having boosters, which probably means there’s going to be an increase in people taking this product, then you’ve got colds, flu and Covid.

“Supply needs to actually catch up with that and work with that... the new normal for supply chains unfortunately is an awful lot of volatility and challenges with that. Products like this are therefore more likely to be disrupted.”

But shortages of over-the-counter medicine are likely to be “local, sporadic and filled within a relatively short time,” according to Michelle Riddalls, head of consumer healthcare body Proprietary Association of Great Britain.

The government’s latest figures show the UK reported 109,133 new coronavirus cases and 335 deaths on Thursday afternoon.

Both infections and deaths are down on the last few days, with cases dropping by around 20,000.

It comes after Covid-related deaths reached their highest number since last February, with 379 and 398 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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