Health Canada authorizes new names for COVID-19 vaccines

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By Sonja Puzic, Brooke Taylor

TORONTO — Health Canada has authorized brand name changes for three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will now be named Comirnaty, the Moderna vaccine will be named SpikeVax, and the AstraZeneca vaccine will be named Vaxzevria, Health Canada said in a tweet Thursday.

“These are only name changes. There are no changes to the vaccines themselves,” the agency tweeted.

The new vaccine names are already being used for promotional purposes in the EU and the United States.

Some initial reactions to the new vaccine names show that it might be a little too late to rebrand now. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch shared on Twitter that he doesn’t care what the vaccines are called.

“I’m still going with Pfizer, Moderna & AZ,” he tweeted

Others expressed frustration that name changes may cause more confusion and vaccine hesitancy.

“Although the vaccine's brand name will be COMIRNATY following this approval, Canada will continue to receive vials of the vaccine labeled as Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine,” Pfizer said in a news release Thursday.

“The formulation for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is the same formulation as COMIRNATY and they are considered interchangeable by Health Canada to provide the COVID-19 vaccination series. Given the current ongoing pandemic, a gradual transition to new labeling with the COMIRNATY brand name will occur at a later date.”

In a separate release, Moderna said it was pleased with Health Canada’s approval of its SpikeVax vaccine.. 

With files from The Canadian Press.