Georgia

David R. Kotok
Sun Jan 30, 2022

We’ve used the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” before. Well, here we go again. Let’s start with this one.

 

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The chart above says it all. But now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, with a specific example of why people trust politicians about as far as they can throw them.

This is the State of Georgia Health Department’s official outline of vaccination requirements for child care and school attendance:

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https://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section

Vaccinations requirements for school attendance have protected kids for generations. But some Georgia politicians recently appeared ready to scrap all that. Georgia Senate Bill 345, as submitted, would prohibit “vaccine passports,” or vaccine requirements of all kinds, for all facilities and services whatsoever, including schools.

 

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Here’s the link: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61178. Note the list of sponsors. You can look at each of the sponsors, read their bios, get their office phone numbers, see the geography of their districts, examine their training and educational backgrounds. As I write, the summary of the proposed legislation reads as follows:

 

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 1 of Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions regarding state government, so as to prohibit state and local governments from mandating vaccine passports; to provide for a definition; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

 

Twitter lit up with responses, including this one, because apparently people do not want to be drop-kicked back into a time when there weren’t vaccines and mandates and life expectancies, decades shorter, reflected that.

 

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https://twitter.com/slider423/status/1485756106337095680?s=20

 

Those Georgia politicians appear to have forgotten the history of the fight to stamp out communicable cripplers and killers like polio. History is instructive:

“What America Looked Like: Polio Children Paralyzed in Iron Lungs,” https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/01/what-america-looked-like-polio-children-paralyzed-in-iron-lungs/251098/.

 

The Georgia Department of Health reported zero cases of polio last year. Here’s what vaccination accomplished against that crippler.

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(https://www.cdc.gov/polio/what-is-polio/polio-us.html)

 

No Georgia children died of smallpox last year, either.

 

The smallpox vaccine was the first mandated vaccine for schoolchildren, way back in 1853; and it eventually won the battle against smallpox entirely, eradicating the disease. (“The Development of the Immunization Schedule,” https://ftp.historyofvaccines.org/multilanguage/content/articles/development-immunization-schedule). That medical victory would never have happened had a law such as Georgia’s SB 345 been made law. The image below, from The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia makes visible the difference that vaccination made when smallpox struck, killing 30% of its unvaccinated victims.

 

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The caption reads, “Boy on left was not vaccinated and has severe smallpox while boy on right was vaccinated and has mild smallpox. This photograph is from a collection of lantern slides used by Philadelphia physicians to illustrate the risks of not vaccinating. Early 1900s.” (https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/smallpox-two-boys)

 

Zero Georgia children went blind from measles last year, though there were three cases of measles reported in the state as recently as 2019. That highly contagious disease (more contagious than Omicron) will surge again should vaccination rates languish. This chart shows how the US is doing in its fight against measles over the past decade.

 

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(https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html)

 

No one in Georgia died last year of whooping cough (pertussis), either, though that virus continues to circulate in the US at a level held in check only by required vaccinations.

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(https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/images/incidence-graph-2019.png)

 

As of January 27, 2022, the Georgia Department of health reported 27,284 confirmed Covid deaths in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, and an additional 5319 probable Covid deaths (https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report). The Georgia COVID-19 Breakthrough Report has tracked breakthrough cases and deaths among vaccinated Georgians since April 2021 and charted them against cases and deaths among the unvaccinated. There is a data reporting lag, especially for deaths, so the most recent information will not be complete.

 

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(https://breakthroughreports.s3.amazonaws.com/Breakthrough+Report_220126.html#counts)

 

Georgia data indicates that unvaccinated Georgians have been 2.9x more likely to die of Covid-19. Since January 2, 2021, 1573 vaccinated Georgians have died of Covid; and 1299 of them, or 82.6%, were age 65 or over (https://breakthroughreports.s3.amazonaws.com/Breakthrough+Report_220126.html#demographics).

 

No vaccinated children in Georgia have died of Covid, though the state has lost 25 children so far to the disease (“A Georgia bill to head off COVID vaccine ‘passports’ lands very wide of the mark,” https://www.gpb.org/news/2022/01/26/georgia-bill-head-off-covid-vaccine-passports-lands-very-wide-of-the-mark [audio link]).

 

In a brief published in December, Peterson-KFF estimates that, across the country, “163,000 COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented by vaccination since June 2021, when safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were widely available to all adults in the U.S.” (“COVID-19 preventable mortality and leading cause of death ranking,” https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/covid19-and-other-leading-causes-of-death-in-the-us/).

 

The same brief notes, “We find that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in November 2021. We also find that in October, COVID-19 was the number 1 cause of death for people age 45–54 and in the top 7 leading causes of death for other age groups, aside from infants.”

 

Here’s a history lesson about Dr. Maurice Hilleman, whose vaccines have saved many lives and who advised President Dwight Eisenhower about the Asian Flu in 1957: (“Meet the Father Of Modern Vaccines; How Would He Beat Covid-19?” https://www.investors.com/news/management/leaders-and-success/meet-the-father-of-modern-vaccines-how-would-he-beat-covid-19/).

 

Note that all the military bases and defense department infrastructure in Georgia and across the US were vaccinated to prevent disease and death in the armed forces during the 1957–1958 Asian Flu pandemic.

 

Dear readers: Georgia is not the only state churning out laws to block vaccine requirements, but this proposed legislation is such a stark instance of ill-advised, deadly foolish lawmaking that we wanted to bring it to your attention. We have reached out to various folks we know who live and work in Georgia. Some are constituents of one of these sponsors. Not one person we know supports this legislation. Some are in disbelief about it.

 

Let’s conclude.

 

One hundred ninety years ago, a 30-year-old French lawyer, philosopher, and judge, Alexis de Tocqueville, visited the new country of America. At that time, Georgia was one of the early founding states and an original member of the 13 colonies. Three Georgians — Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton —were among those who signed the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 in Philadelphia.

 

De Tocqueville traveled extensively and wrote a famous treatise about his findings. He included the US Constitution and Bill of Rights in his 900-page treatise. I lift this quote from his Democracy in America, first published in French in 1835. My copy was translated to English by Henry Reeve.

 

In Book Two of four, “Influence of Democracy on Progress of Opinion in the United States” Section I, “Influence of Democracy on the Action of Intellect in The United States,” Chapter X: “Why The Americans Are More Addicted To Practical Than To Theoretical Science,” de Tocqueville wrote:

 

In America the purely practical part of science is admirably understood, and careful attention is paid to the theoretical portion which is immediately requisite to application. On this head the Americans always display a clear, free, original, and inventive power of mind. But hardly anyone in the United States devotes himself to the essentially theoretical and abstract portion of human knowledge. In this respect the Americans carry to excess a tendency which is, I think, discernible, though in less degree, amongst all democratic nations.

 

At the end of the chapter de Tocqueville issued a warning:

 

Because the civilization of ancient Rome perished in consequence of the Barbarians, we are perhaps too apt to think that civilization cannot perish in any other manner. If the light by which we are guided is ever extinguished, it will dwindle by degrees, and expire of itself. By dint of close adherence to mere applications, principles would be lost sight of; and when the principles were wholly forgotten, the methods derived from them would be ill-pursued. New methods could no longer be invented, and men would continue to apply, without intelligence, and without art, scientific processes no longer understood.

 

Here are two questions for readers:

 

  1. What words would de Tocqueville use to describe Georgia today if he were a witness to this legislative attempt?

 

  1. For those in the financial arena, how would you rate Georgia on governance if you were rating the state on ESG factors?

 

As of January 25th, Georgia Senator Jeff Mullis, who crafted GA Senate Bill 345, had backpedalled under fierce criticism and indicated that he would rewrite the bill, noting, “I think the whooping cough and polio and measles, they probably need to stay the same. Because we’ve nearly eradicated a lot of that.” He added, “I’m talking about COVID only.” (“Georgia lawmaker proposes bill to ban COVID vaccine requirement in schools,” https://www.11alive.com/article/news/politics/anti-vaccination-bill-georgia-senate/85-dabc52a2-9af8-464d-835b-ff41651725ef)

 

Apparently, neither the bill’s author nor its sixteen other sponsors thought very hard about the language of the law they proposed to enact.

Legislative geniuses who now are embarrassed and are rewriting their legislation to say what they think they want to mean may want to research further before doing so. The SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to mutate. Nothing in the world of virology or epidemiology guarantees that they may not find themselves embarrassed again, with their hands tied behind their backs by their own legislation, should deaths and hospitalizations rise in Georgia with some new, more severe variant. Georgia legislators might want to consider this summation from Virologist Angela Rasmussen: “COVID-19: Elimination isn't 'going to be possible with this virus,' virologist says,” https://finance.yahoo.com/news/covid-19-elimination-isnt-going-to-be-possible-with-this-virus-virologist-says-192645770.html.

 

Omicron is already 47% more severe in children than previous variants have been, and the further mutated “stealth Omicron” variant, BA.2, is next up to bat. (See “Omicron subvariant BA.2 raises new questions about puzzling evolution of virus behind COVID-19,” https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/omicron-subvariant-ba-2-raises-new-questions-about-puzzling-evolution-of-virus-behind-covid-19-1.6327270.)

 

Georgia legislators would also do well to review Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding’s recent thread on Omicron and children, which can be found here: https://twitter.com/DrEricDing/status/1486237761594183680?s=20. We have a suggestion for those who may be put off by Dr. Feigl-Ding’s emotional reaction to the data: Just look at the data. Focus on the charts. Draw your own conclusions.

 

There is not just the question of whether Covid claims children’s lives. It can also damage their health for months or for years. (https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Long-Haul-COVID-19-in-Children-and-Teens.aspx)

 

Both Pfizer and Moderna are testing mRNA boosters tailored to protect against the Omicron variant, even as the Department of Defense folks at Walter Reed are working on a vaccine to provide immunity against all variants of SARS-CoV-2. These are still the early days of humanity’s fight against this virus. Does the State of Georgia or any other state really want to say that they will never ever, no matter what variant or vaccine comes along, act to protect schoolchildren by requiring vaccination for Covid, as the United States has done for generations of children in the case of many other diseases?

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this Sunday morning missive.

David R. Kotok
Chairman & Chief Investment Officer
Email | Bio


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