You’re kidding, right? Nobody makes a profit on flu vaccines. In fact, most of the companies that used to manufacture those vaccines have stopped, because they were losing money on them. The production of vaccines is heavily regulated and most doses are purchased by the federal government, which insists on deep discounts. Over half of that revenue is consumed by the costs of liability lawsuits filed against the manufacturers by people who suffer adverse reactions to the vaccine.

Flu vaccine production is a horribly difficult and expensive business. The production process is very labor-intensive and cannot be automated; humans have to manually inject and inspect chicken eggs. Because the viruses mutate, new vaccines have to be developed every year from scratch. Any unsold doses at the end of the year must be discarded, and the company loses all the money spent to produce them.

In 1967, there were 26 vaccine manufacturers in the United States. Today there are four. Only two of those make flu vaccine, and they lose money on every dose they sell. This is why we have shortages of flu vaccines every year.

If the vaccine manufacturers do make swine flu vaccine this year, it will only be because the federal government compels them to do so. And they will not make a penny of profit on the deal.

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