Fact check: False claim that FDA vaccine officials resigned to avoid criminal charges

·5 min read

The claim: FDA officials resigned to avoid prosecution for crimes against humanity

An Instagram post has mischaracterized the resignations of two top vaccine officials at the Food and Drug Administration.

"Top FDA vaccine officials RESIGN to avoid prosecution for crimes against humanity as White House, CDC commit GENOCIDE," reads a headline in an image posted Sept. 15, which has been liked nearly 300 times in 7 days.

The image is a screengrab from a Sept. 2 article by Natural News, a website that often shares misinformation and conspiracy theories.

The article says two senior FDA officials resigned because "they know about the criminal indictments that are coming against the genocidal vaccine mass murderers," referring to the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the FDA hasn't commented on the reason behind the officials' resignation, health officials told media outlets it had to do with a disagreement over COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

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The user who posted the image declined to comment. USA TODAY reached out to Natural News for comment.

FDA email gave no reason for resignations

The resignations of Marion Gruber, director of vaccines research and review at the FDA, and Phillip Krause, the deputy director, were announced Aug. 31 in a company-wide email from Peter Marks, the agency's top vaccine regulator.

Gruber's last day at the agency will be Oct. 31, according to a copy of Marks' email that USA TODAY obtained. Krause is expected to leave in November.

The email did not mention the reason why the pair is leaving. FDA spokesperson Alison Hunt didn't elaborate on the reason behind the resignations, either.

Politico, citing an unnamed "current health official," reported Gruber and Krause resigned due to differences with Marks, the director for the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA.

A former official said the resignations were "rooted in anger over the agency's lack of autonomy in the booster planning so far," the news outlet reported.

The New York Times reported Gruber and Krause were leaving because they disagreed with President Joe Biden's COVID-19 booster shot plan.

Biden has been outspoken about the need for booster shots and announced in August they'd be available, pending FDA approval, as early as Sept. 20 for all Americans who had received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines eight months prior.

Some health experts, however, say there's little data supporting the need for a third shot for everyone at the eight-month mark.

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On Sept. 22, the FDA authorized Pfizer booster shots but only for some people. A committee advising the CDC is set to vote Sept. 23 on third shots of the Pfizer vaccine.

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USA TODAY reached out to Gruber and Krause for comment.

No evidence of criminal charges against CDC, White House, FDA

The burden of proof for any factual claim is on the speaker, and no one making this claim provided any such proof.

The user who posted the image declined to comment on the matter and didn't provide any supporting evidence. USA TODAY reached out to other users who've shared the claim and none provided a credible source or evidence.

Natural News claimed Gruber and Krause said the White House, CDC and United Nations "have conspired" to keep the FDA out of making decisions regarding vaccines.

But there's no evidence of either official speaking about their resignation publicly. And the email sent to FDA staff members announcing the officials' resignation didn't elaborate on it, either.

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USA TODAY's research also found no evidence the White House, CDC or FDA are facing criminal charges for crimes against humanity or genocide.

The White House wouldn't comment on the matter and referred USA TODAY to the Department of Health and Human Services, which didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that two FDA officials resigned to avoid prosecution for crimes against humanity. The two officials reportedly resigned due to a disagreement over the push for booster shots from the Biden administration, according to The New York Times and Politico. There's no evidence the White House or CDC are facing charges for crimes against humanity or genocide, and neither the social media users nor Natural News provided any evidence supporting the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim FDA officials quit to avoid criminal charges

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