Comirnaty: What’s the story behind the new name for Pfizer’s COVID vaccine?

Coronavirus
A paramedic with Israel's Magen David Adom medical service gets a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Holon on Aug. 24, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images)

A paramedic with Israel’s Magen David Adom medical service gets a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Holon on Aug. 24, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images)

Pfizer received full approval for its COVID-19 vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and all of a sudden there’s a new vaccine name being thrown around: Comirnaty.

Comirnaty, who? It’s the same exact mRNA vaccine Pfizer has producing through the emergency use authorization, but now it’s being marketed under the new name. Comirnaty is administered in two doses, three weeks apart, just like Pfizer doses have been all along.

The vaccine name is pronounced koe-mir’-na-tee. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but neither did “Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine,” which is what it was technically called before.

The name was developed by Brand Institute in conjunction with BioNTech and Pfizer, according to Fierce Pharma.

“The name is coined from COVID-19 immunity, and then embeds the mRNA in the middle, which is the platform technology, and as a whole the name is meant to evoke the word community,” Scott Piergrossi, Brand Institute’s president of operations and communications, told the site. 

The rebranding didn’t go unnoticed — nor unpunished — on social media.

Pfizer’s vaccine isn’t the only one with an alter ego. Moderna’s is branded as Spikevax in Europe. The one-shot Johnson & Johnson shot is technically called the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine after the American company’s Belgian subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

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