As governments around the world start to limit testing for COVID-19, the humble throat drop may become a gauge of how quickly omicron is spreading.

Sales of medicated lozenges and gargles, cough suppressants and over-the-counter pain relief medications have soared so high that the products are often in short supply around the world, according to manufacturers and sellers. The trend has emerged even in countries where official testing numbers appear to show that active cases are falling.

That could make supermarket and pharmacy sales of nonprescription remedies a useful indicator of COVID-19 infections as governments around the world decrease testing, citing the high cost and plans to "live with COVID.”