Taking Stock of Vaccine

The U.S. government has approved four H1N1 vaccines and says its 195-million dose order will be sufficient to cover 300 million Americans.

Good news for America's stock of vaccines. Bad news for biotech stocks.

After the announcement, many H1N1 vaccine manufacturers saw their stocks quickly lose 7 to 8 percent of their value. When dire pandemic predictions made shortages seem likely, investors flocked to those stocks. Values skyrocketed. Since supplies now are deemed sufficient, a sell off ensued. Such is the free market.

It seems unfair that the reward for accelerating development to ensure an adequate stock of vaccines is a loss in stock value. The silver lining of the pandemic vaccine race, however, may be greater realization that most production still uses chicken eggs, a 60-year-old technology, that takes 6 months. Most likely the government will sustain funding for the next generation of vaccines and antivirals.

That is an investment with enduring value.

— Tom DeSanto

Image: www.lenzwatch.co.za

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