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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Two of the FDA's top vaccine regulators, Marion Gruber and Phil Krause, are leaving the agency, which was first reported by BioCentury.

Why it matters: The FDA appears to be increasingly rudderless at a crucial time in the pandemic. The agency still has no permanent commissioner and now is losing two highly regarded vaccine experts all while officials weigh full approval of the COVID-19 vaccines for adults, initial authorization for kids, and booster shots for many.

State of play: Gruber is retiring in October, and Krause is leaving in November, according to a memo from Peter Marks, a top drug director at the FDA. Gruber and Krause weren't immediately available for comment.

What they're saying: The departures shocked people throughout the industry, considering the FDA still has consequential decisions to make about the COVID-19 vaccines and that Gruber and Krause are considered top experts in this field.

  • Luciana Borio, a former top FDA scientist, said on Twitter the agency is "losing two giants who helped bring us many safe and effective vaccines over decades of public service."

Between the lines: The Biden administration left a bad taste within the science community last month after officials said booster doses of the mRNA vaccines would be available for Americans starting Sept. 20, pending FDA evaluation of data.

  • But many vaccine researchers thought the Biden administration neutered the FDA by saying boosters were going to happen on a specific date, even though the FDA's review had barely begun.

Go deeper

20 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

11 hours ago - Health

Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years

Expand chart
Data: Annals of Internal Medicine; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The pandemic slashed U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years, with Black and Hispanic Americans losing more than twice as many years per capita compared to white Americans, according to research published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared.

20 hours ago - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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