7 Mar, 2023 @ 16:19
1 min read

Sales of flu remedies shoot up as Spain hit by major second wave of virus


IF YOU’VE been feeling under the weather these last days, you are not the only one. Spain is currently suffering one of its longest and most widespread flu epidemics in living memory. What’s more, this is the second wave of the season.

The first wave arrived in October, which is around three months early according to Spanish daily El Confidencial. It ramped up in November before dropping off, and was attributed to the Influenza A virus. But now a second, even stronger wave of Influenza B has arrived. 

According to the Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid, in mid-February there were some 788 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on a national scale. In some areas, such as the North African city of Melilla, the figure was as high as 2,000. 

As was predicted by healthcare experts, the precautions taken during the Covid-19 pandemic such as mask-wearing, hand-sanitising and social distancing, have likely left the population with low defences against viruses such as the flu. 

Another explanation for the current situation is that there are a lot of different viruses circulating at the moment, and people may be infected with more than one. 

‘In a PCR test we can see three different viruses from the same sample and we don’t know which one is causing the symptoms,’ virology expert Ivan Sanz Muñoz told El Confidencial. 

What is for sure is that sales in Spanish pharmacies of medicines to treat flu symptoms have shot up. Data cited by newspaper El País from consultancy Health Market research show that in the eighth week of this year pharmacies sold €23 million worth of such remedies, which is practically double the figure for the same date a year previously. 

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases are not spiking. According to the latest data from the central Health ministry, there are just 84 patients in intensive care in Spain with Covid-19, which is the lowest figure since the pandemic hit the country back in March 2020.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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