Around three in 10 stores across the UK have little to no stock of painkillers, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.
Drug shortages have been reported as early as November when 15% of stores lacked paracetamol, as the first cases of Omicron were reported in the UK.
The news comes as the ONS revealed around one in 15 people in the England have tested positive for Covid-19 in the week ending 31 December 2021.
This figures for Covid-19 infections are one in 20 in Scotland and Wales.
A fifth of shops have shortages in ibuprofen as well as toilet paper and fresh fish.
“People are having boosters, which probably means there’s going to be an increase in people taking this product, then you’ve got colds, flus and Covid,” he said,” supply chain expert at Cranfield University Professor Richard Wilding said.
“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.”
Manufacturer staff absences due to Omicron surges and countries restricting trade may also affect supply chain efficiency.
The UK has relied on oversea imports for painkillers, as a third of generic medicines used by the NHS are made in India which has limited drug exports during the pandemic.