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Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at Zabeel Primary Health Centre in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Why is the Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which is part of Dubai’s free vaccination programme, called Comirnaty in the European Union?

In a joint press release, BioNTech and Pfizer commented on the vaccine's brand name, "The vaccine will be marketed in the EU under the brand name Comirnaty, which represents a combination of the terms COVID-19, mRNA, community and immunity, to highlight the first authorization of a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, as well as the joint global efforts that made this achievement possible with unprecedented rigor and efficiency, and with safety at the forefront, during this global pandemic."

Dubai kicked off a campaign of inoculation last Wednesday, using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Currently the programme is in phase 1.

The name Comirnaty was proposed by Brand Institute, global leader in pharmaceutical and healthcare related name development. However, while Comirnaty is the name the vial goes by in the EU, it may not be known as such in the UAE.

The name was first announced by Swiss regulatory authority, Swissmedic. Shortly after, it was included in the conditional marketing authorization published by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The approval of the brand name by other global regulatory agencies will follow their own respective guidelines, policies and procedures.

In a press release by Brand Institute, the company also explained also that the COVID-19 vaccine's proposed nonproprietary name, (pINN), tozinameran (toe zi na' mer an), was also developed by Brand Institute and its wholly owned subsidiary, Drug Safety Institute. The "proposed" status of the name indicates the standard 4-month comment period before becoming a recommended INN (rINN). The -meran suffix indicates that this is an mRNA vaccine.