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2 FDA officials reportedly resign over Biden administration booster-shot plan

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Anjalee Khemlani joins Myles Udland and Brian Sozzi to give an in-depth analysis into the latest news surrounding the COVID vaccine, which includes: The departure of two senior FDA vaccine leaders ahead of the agency’s decision on boosters, the Israeli Health Ministry publishing data that supports the claim of Pfizer boosters offering additional protection against COVID, and a new study showing Moderna’s vaccine produces double the number of antibodies of Pfizer’s shot.

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: Two senior leaders in the FDA's Vaccine Review Office are stepping down. Yahoo Finance senior health care reporter Anjalee Khemlani is here with more on this and the latest on the COVID front. Anjalee?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right, Brian. Well, we found out this morning-- or, rather, we found out that we have-- yesterday that two of the top vaccine leaders of vaccine review leaders at the FDA are stepping down. And senior officials have told multiple reporters that it is largely in part to what is being perceived as the White House getting ahead of and putting pressure on the entity to approve not just the vaccine boosters, but also other parts of the vaccine approval process, and also shifting the focus away from the FDA, which is largely in charge of this, to the CDC and the CDC's advisory panel.

So a lot of tension there. And this is actually causing some health experts to make comparisons to the Trump administration and the oversight that came and the sort of heavy-handed, top-down strategy that came from the White House last year. So really a tough time over there at the FDA. These two individuals-- that's Dr. Marion Gruber and Philip Krause, are going to stay on through the end of the booster process, but then after that are stepping down.

Meanwhile, we know with Pfizer, we got some reports from an Israel study that said the booster shots have shown some pretty strong efficacy data, of course, not anything different than one expected, about 70% there. And so that's really good when it comes to the whole discussion of what does that mean for the general population, as we know that the US is studying that, looking at that, and hoping to within the coming weeks approve boosters for Americans by September 20. Back to you.

MYLES UDLAND: And then Anjalee, also on the Pfizer and Moderna front, a study out of Belgium kind of looking at the response, the antibody response produced by those two main vaccines-- what have we learned there?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right. So interestingly, Moderna showed two times the antibody levels. Now, it's an interesting metric, of course, because you want antibodies to build up at pretty strong levels. But some experts are looking at this in context of the booster shot and what that means, because we've seen conversations about what waning immunity means. There is half of the-- maybe not half, but there are certain health experts that look at antibody levels as an indicator of waning immunity, while there's another thought within the health community that antibody levels aren't specifically what should be looked at, but rather the memory that is instilled in the body, which is the B and T cells, and how they remember to fight off the disease.

So these two strains of thought, of course, are pretty interesting. And we'll see which one sort of wins out. But that sort of plays into what we know and what health experts are looking at when it comes to the need for boosters.

BRIAN SOZZI: Anjalee Khemlani, thanks so much.