A Vaccine by Any Other Name: Behind COVID Vax Brand Names

Medscape Staff

November 22, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

What to know:

  • Most of the currently developed vaccines for COVID-19 have brand names, but the general public, the media, and medical professionals still mostly use the pharmaceutical companies' names, like "the Pfizer vaccine" or "the Moderna vaccine."

  • This is partly due to lack of marketing. As the only vaccine with full FDA approval (rather than emergency use approval), only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be used in marketing within the US. Ad campaigns have also thus far been unnecessary due to the high demand and limited supply of the vaccines.

  • The Brand Institute, a name developer that partners on 75% of all pharma brand approvals and nonproprietary name approvals, was involved in creating all five of the known COVID vaccine names so far: Pfizer's Comirnaty, Moderna's Spikevax, AstraZeneca's Vaxevria, Novavax's Nuvaxovid, and Sanofi's Vidprevtyn.

  • The brand names have met with some ridicule from media personalities and on social media. Talk show hosts Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon both made fun of the Pfizer vaccine's name, "Comirnaty," after it received official FDA approval in August.

  • According to the Brand Institute's president of operations and communication, Scott Piergrossi, the "Comirnaty" brand name drew from the words "COVID" and "mRNA," referring to the technology it uses, and is meant to play on the words "community" and "immunity."

This is a summary of the article, "Name That Vaccine: From Comirnaty to Spikevax to Nuvaxovid, Covid-19 Shots' Brand Names Remain Little-Known," published by Endpoints on November 22. The full article can be found on endpts.com .

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