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Chinese rush to barter medicine online amid COVID spike

Shortage of drugs grows in major cities as virus cases spiral

Customers buy medicine at a pharmacy as the local government distributes more fever medicines following a COVID-19 outbreak in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Dec. 19.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Desperate Chinese citizens are exchanging medicines online as the country faces a wave of COVID-19 cases after an abrupt policy U-turn that sparked a run on medicines and risks overwhelming hospitals.

Tech giant Tencent Holdings launched a mini program on its WeChat app Wednesday to allow users to "help each other out" by posting what medicines they need or can give out. Most posts were asking for anti-fever medicine such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and rapid antigen test kits.

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