Comirnaty Meaning Explained After FDA Approves Pfizer COVID Vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday after reviewing safety data in thousands of patients several months after their second dose.

Pfizer and BioNTech made the announcement in a press release on Monday, and confirmed that the vaccine would now be marketed under the brand name Comirnaty.

Although the name has changed, the two companies said the vaccine formulation has remained the same.

Under the Comirnaty name, the vaccine is approved for use in people aged 16 or older. The vaccine is still available for those aged 12 to 15, but under the fast-track Emergency Use Authorization that has enabled the U.S. vaccine rollout so far.

The brand name for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was created in collaboration with medical product brand naming company the Brand Institute.

In a December 2020 interview with medical news outlet FiercePharma, Scott Piergrossi, president of operations and communications at Brand Institute, explained the thought process behind the name.

He said the "Co" part of the name refers to immunity against COVID; the middle part is a reference to mRNA, which is the type of vaccine that Comirnaty is; and the "ty" ending makes the word sound similar to "community."

Piergrossi said: "Identifying those word parts and plugging into the community concept really executed nicely at the end of the day."

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine may also be referred to by its non-brand name, tozinameran.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is not the only COVID vaccine that the Brand Institute has had a hand in naming.

On its website, the company said it had also partnered with Moderna to create the brand name Spikevax for its COVID vaccine, while it also helped create the Vaxzevria name for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.

In a statement on Monday, acting FDA commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said the FDA approval of Comirnaty was "a milestone" in the COVID pandemic.

She said: "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."

In a Pfizer-BioNTech press release, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Monday he hoped that the full FDA approval for Comirnaty would "help increase confidence in our vaccine" as cases and death rates rise in unvaccinated people around the U.S.

Pfizer vaccine
A healthcare worker is pictured holding a Pfizer COVID vaccine dose in Los Angeles, California, on August 11, 2021. The vaccine has been approved by the FDA. Robyn Beck/AFP / Getty