Finland has started stockpiling drugs containing paracetamol and dexamethasone as the country prepares for a second wave of coronavirus, authorities said on Tuesday.
Consumers will be allowed to buy three-months worth of paracetamol and dexamethasone at a time until at least January, the Ministry of Health said, with the aim to “prepare for a possible increase in global demand” during autumn and winter.
Global supplies of paracetamol – commonly used to treat fevers – have been hit after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted some countries, including in China, to cut production.
“We are taking this step so that even if the supply and logistics problems of paracetamol persist, we have enough for every patient who needs it,” Ministry of Health’s Noora Oinonen told AFP.
Meanwhile, a British study published in June showed that dexamethasone significantly reduces mortality in patients severely affected by COVID-19.
But the drug, a powerful steroid, should only be used for patients “in serious or critical condition”, warned the World Health Organization (WHO), which has not yet approved its use against the virus.
“We only have a small market for dexamethasone in Finland, so if the WHO recommends it in its guidelines, there is a risk that sales of the drug will increase rapidly,” Oinonen said.
Finland has reported a total of nearly 7,800 coronavirus cases with 334 related deaths.
After a relatively calm July, cases have spiked in August with 284 new cases recorded since the beginning of the month.
The country’s institute for health and welfare (THL) has recommended wearing face-coverings on public transport in the worst-affected regions.
Border controls are still in place for those travelling to Finland from Austria, Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal, Poland, France, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Monaco and the UK.