Home > Politics > Government and the Swine Flu Vaccine Shortage

Government and the Swine Flu Vaccine Shortage

Now that the Obama Administration has declared the Swine Flu a national emergency, we are getting our first taste of the impact government has when it interferes in the free market.  Taking a ride in Mr. Peabody’s Wayback machine, we head back in time to 1993 when the Hillary Clinton launched a program called The Children’s Vaccine Initiative (CVI).  This initiative was disastrous to the vaccine manufacturing industry in that prior to it’s enactment, there were a large number of vaccine manufacturers.  However, with the government trying to set prices at which they would buy vaccines, the manufacturers saw their margins decrease.

Once again, Quinn’s law, “Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent” still holds true. By interfereing, the government artificially distorted the market and with reduced margins resulting from the CVI, the manufacturers began closing up shop in search of more profitable enterprises.

And of course, whenever politics gets onvolved, efficiency goes right out the window and things collapse. From the Seattle P-I:

“Scarce resources, political infighting and lack of a shared vision not only hamstrung the Children’s Vaccine Initiative, he said, it contributed to a broad decline in global immunization systems worldwide. “Everything just collapsed,” said Michel Zaffran, program manager for vaccines at WHO. “Every agency was just fighting for their own flag rather than working together on the big picture.”

So what is the result today? From The Associated Press:

“The federal government originally promised 120 million doses of swine flu vaccine by now. Only 13 million have come through.

As nervous Americans clamor for the vaccine, production is running several weeks behind schedule, and health officials blame the pressure on pharmaceutical companies to crank it out along with the ordinary flu vaccine, and a slow and antiquated process that relies on millions of chicken eggs.”

That is a whopping 10% efficiency! The problems with supply are blamed on a number of interrelated factors — the low prices the federal government pays for childhood vaccines, the dwindling number of vaccine producers, and others.

Regardless of your party affiliation, this a perfect example of what happens when government gets involved, ultimately distorting the free market.

In 2002, The GAO (Government Accounting Office) warned congress of continued shortages in vaccines.  Back in 2003, we faced a similar shortage of vaccines, yet the government was not able to learn from their mistakes and now we find ourselves in the same boat as we did then.     Whether you believe that the Swine Flu vaccine is necessary, what is certain is that when the government is involved, nothing goes according to plan.  This is what we can expect from Government health care.  This is a vaccine.  What happens when it is a heart transplant or brain surgery?  What can we expect then?

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  1. October 27, 2009 at 01:18

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