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What’s in a name? Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now ‘Comirnaty’

Sep 20, 2021 | COVID-19 vaccine

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Comirnaty(pronounced koe-mir’-na-tee), more often referred to as the ‘Pfizer’ vaccine, is a fresh new name for the COVID-19 vaccine recently approved by the FDA. But where does the new name come from? BFHD looked into it, here's what we found.
It’s been a few weeks since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for use in people 16 years and older. More often referred to as the ‘Pfizer’ vaccine, its long-awaited FDA approval comes with a fresh new name: Comirnaty(pronounced koe-mir’-na-tee).  Health leaders say they’re hoping this certification can combat hesitancy among people calling the life-saving vaccine ‘experimental’.

Pharmaceutical companies often rebrand products after receiving FDA approval, and this isn’t even Comirnaty’s first time being re-named. During the development and testing phase, the same vaccine was code-named BNT162b2. Internationally, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is known as Tozinameran.

According to a joint press release from BioNTech and Pfizer, the name Comirnaty is the result of multiple words being sewn together:

The vaccine will be marketed in the EU under the brand name COMIRNATY®, which represents a combination of the terms COVID-19, mRNA, community and immunity, to highlight the first authorization of a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, as well as the joint global efforts that made this achievement possible with unprecedented rigor and efficiency, and with safety at the forefront, during this global pandemic.

More than 1.2 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been delivered to more than 120 countries or territories around the world since December 2020. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that three in 10 unvaccinated adults said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if one of the COVID-19 vaccines received full approval. The FDA addressed the concerns of the skeptical when they announced Comirnaty’s approval:

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”

At Benton-Franklin Health District the brand name and commonly used name are interchangeable. What doesn’t change is the stress the virus is putting on our community. Hospitals, clinics, long term care facilities, agricultural operations, and schools are just some of the industries that are being overwhelmed right now by COVID-19. If you don’t do it for yourself, consider vaccinating for your friends and neighbors working in these industries. For more information about vaccinating against COVID-19, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

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