The vaccination efforts in Malaysia are ramping up and more people are finding MySejahtera calling them up for their vaccination slots as we work towards a 50% vaccination rate in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by end of July as well as Johor and Penang by September.
Some who have gotten their first doses of the Pfizer jab might notice something a bit curious. Nowhere in your MySejahtera nor the hard-copy government card does it say Pfizer. Instead, it says “Comirnaty”.
Similarly for those who have gotten the AstraZeneca, the vials might say Vaxzevria.
Don’t panic – they’re all legit.
The reason is because the big companies have started rolling out the official brand names of their respective vaccines, which prior to this have been referred to by the names of the companies or organisations that developed and produce them: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, you get the drift.
However, as pharmaceutical companies, they also produce a lot of other products on top of the Covid-19 vaccines so just calling the vaccines the producers’ names might get very confusing.
For example, Pfizer also produces vaccines for pneumococcal, meningococcal and even tick-borne encephalitis diseases. AstraZeneca develops and produces various flu vaccines.
In an effort to specifically identify the Covid-19 vaccine, they’ve all come up with brand names for it, hence Comirnaty for Pfizer’s and Vaxzevria for AstraZeneca’s. Here are the brand names of the rest of the big vaccines.
Pfizer’s Comirnaty was registered as early as end of October 2020. It’s a mouthful to pronounce but it was developed with a lot of thought put into it, according to Executive Scott Piergrossi of Brand Institute, the US company responsible for the name.
Broken down, ‘Co’ stands for Covid, the virus it fights, while the central five letters is a hidden Easter egg for mRNA, the platforming technology of the vaccine. The ending of ‘ty’ stands for both community and immunity.
Brand Institute was also responsible for the name of AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria. Thing to note is that only the version produced in the UK is called Vaxzevria. The version produced by the Serum Institute of India is called Covishield. However, the UK authorities have used the brand name Vaxzevria on all UK medical records where the AstraZeneca vaccine has been used, even if they are the Indian-made Covishield version. Only batch numbers identify the versions of the vaccines.
The Brand Institute also lent a hand in naming Moderna’s Spikevax, a two syllable name combining “spike” from the virus’ spike protein and “vax” for vaccine. Its simplicity and noticeably fewer number of syllables makes it a win for the rest of us.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen
Johnson & Johnson probably takes the cake when it comes to ease of pronunciation of the name of its vaccine with Janssen, a clear abbreviation of its brand name to something much shorter to process, easier to spell and direct to pronounce.
When it comes to means though, Sinovac’s CoronaVac says all that needs to be said about what it is for.