Pfizer-BioNTech’s FDA-approved vaccine, Comirnaty, *IS* available in the United States.
Have you heard the latest social media rumor?
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Pfizer-BioNTech’s FDA-approved vaccine, Comirnaty, is not available in the United States/your state yet. True or false?!
You guessed it–this is not true.
And next time you run across something that smells a little fishy, don’t get caught! Just google it followed by the words “fact check” to see what professional fact-checkers have to say.
Details: The FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 in late August. Then Pfizer announced that their new product’s name would be Comirnaty. But it’s exactly the same thing. There is only one Pfizer vaccine available in the United States (and elsewhere), and it’s the one people are getting. The only detail of note is that the dose is different for kids aged 5-11 versus people older than 11.
Before a vaccine (or any other drug) receives “full FDA approval” (which actually means it is licensed for use in the United States), it goes by a temporary name to identify the specific formula. In this case, before Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine against COVID-19 was licensed, it was called BNT162b2. Since no one wants to go around saying BNT162b2, we all called the “the Pfizer vaccine.”
Once it gets approval, the manufacturer usually markets it under a trade name. Pfizer decided to call the newly licensed BNT162b2 Comirnaty.
We could argue about WHY they chose to call it Comirnaty (just why? It’s impossible to pronounce aloud. What is that R doing right in the middle of this word?!)
However, we cannot argue about whether Comirnaty is the same thing as BNT162b2, or whether the product that was licensed is the same as the product that was authorized, or whether the vaccine currently available is really Comirnaty. Because they are all exactly the same thing: Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, which has been fully approved by the FDA for people age 16 and up, and has an EUA for ages 5-15.
Dear Pandemic doesn’t do a ton of refutations of internet rumors largely because there are many other terrific news outlets in the business of professional fact checking.
Next time you have a question like “I heard [latest social media rumor]; is that true?” you can simply google the gist of the rumor followed by the words “fact check.” This will almost always result in a well-researched and linked article from Associated Press, USA Today, or another major news outlet doing professional fact-checking.
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