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Same Vaccine, New Name. Why Did Pfizer Choose Comirnaty?

Comirnaty vaccine card


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Key Takeaways

  • Pfizer’s FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine is now named Comirnaty.
  • Although social media users poked fun at the rebrand, naming a vaccine is a typical procedure after an FDA approval.
  • Comirnaty maintains the same formulation and technology it had before the name change.

After an FDA approval, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is entering the market under a new name: “Comirnaty.”

Twitter users took a jab at the rebrand, but registering a product name is a relatively common procedure after it's approved by the FDA.

Jonathan Baktari, MD, CEO of e7health.com, who has been in the vaccine business before the pandemic, tells Verywell that all pharmaceutical companies name their drugs or vaccines.

“They don't usually name a product after their parent name,” he says.


Before an FDA approval, pharmaceutical companies do not have a patent to move forward with names and branding for their product. For Pfizer, the commonly understood “Pfizer vaccine” title was more of a descriptor than a name, Baktari says. He suggests thinking of Comirnaty less as a new title, but rather as the first official title for the Pfizer vaccine.

“Part of it is getting the patent and also developing brand awareness,” Baktari says. “They try to give it a name that symbolizes something similar to what the disease or treatment does.”

What Does "Comirnaty" Stand For?

According to Brand Institute, a healthcare company that worked with Pfizer to name the vaccine, Comirnaty is a combination of four ideas: COVID-19, mRNA, community, and immunity.

Let’s break it down. 

CO as in COVID-19, the virus targeted by the vaccine.

Mirna as in mRNA, the technology used to create the vaccine, (plus a vowel).

Ty as in a way to rhyme with “community,” which the company says highlights the global vaccination efforts, and “immunity,” which is the goal of the vaccine.

The FDA approval of Comirnaty applies to people aged 16 and above. The mRNA-based vaccine was first granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in December 2020 and continues to be under an EUA for children ages 12 to 16. In EUA circumstances, the company will still refer to its shot as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Regardless of name, the vaccine formulation is the same, Baktari says. People who receive Comirnaty or the vaccine under EUA can rest assured that they’re getting the same shot.

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has been branded as Comirnaty in Europe since last December, when it was authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

Moderna, which has earned approval in Europe, renamed its vaccine to Spikevax in June. Australia’s AstraZeneca vaccine was also renamed this month to ​​Vaxzevria, to be consistent with the name used in the European Medicines Agency and the United Kingdom.

Most vaccine manufacturers don’t want to be associated with one product forever, Baktari says. Especially for a company like Pfizer, which has thousands of medications, being associated exclusively with a COVID-19 vaccine could make it hard to market future products, he adds. 

“I'm sure, on some level, they're happy their name is attached to the vaccine,” Baktari says, adding that the company will instead want to popularize the new name in the long term.

While the general public eases into the Comirnaty rebrand, here are some laughable responses from social media:

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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