The Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, making it one of the most important days in the history of the pharmaceutical company.

But, since nothing can be purely good on the Internet, the company immediately became a punchline.

We regret to inform you, dear reader, that they named the vaccine Comirnaty.


Yes, Comirnaty.

As one user put it, “Achievement unlocked: full FDA approval. Also unlocked: crappy hard-to-pronounce word — Comirnaty. Thanks, marketing.”

Indeed, though the FDA announced that it’s pronounced “koe-mir’-na-tee,” much has been made about the difficulties in actually saying it aloud. Writer Drew Magary likened it to “a Philly resident trying to say ‘community.’ ” He also suggested it would “be amusing if Pfizer did a big ad blitz for Comirnaty without mentioning it’s the COVID vaccine AT ALL. Like if they just said ‘Promotes lung girth!’ and jabs suddenly went up nationwide by 60%.” — which naturally led to a flood of jokes about Viagra, which is also produced by Pfizer.

Almost immediately, Twitter users piled on to point out the absurdity of Comirnaty. CNN editor Ariel Edwards-Levy implored everyone to “not lose sight of the fact that ‘Comirnaty’ is an objectively hilarious brand name.”

“Every vaccine should get a name like someone pronouncing ‘community’ with three or four deviled eggs in their mouth,” added another user.

Many imagined the meeting that led to that letter salad.

“I feel like the brainstorm session that came up with the name ‘Comirnaty’ either ended too soon or went on way too long,” tweeted Seattle pulmonologist Nick Mark.

“The person(s) who came up with this name should never be allowed to name anything ever again. They shouldn’t even be allowed to name their pets,” said entrepreneur Christopher Bouzy in a particularly harsh tweet.

Meanwhile, Ryan Henyard, co-host of the “Black Movie Podcast,” found some inspiration in the name — albeit not the kind the vaccine’s marketing team might appreciate. He tweeted, “If someone can come up with the name ‘Comirnaty’ for the most important pharmacological advance in a century and not get laughed out of the room. I guess I should be less shy about my work and ideas that are actually good.”

So, what did happen?

The brainstorming session that produced the name Comirnaty was actually led by the aptly named marketing agency the Brand Institute.

“The name is coined from covid-19 immunity, and then embeds the mRNA in the middle, which is the platform technology, and as a whole the name is meant to evoke the word community,” Scott Piergrossi, the company’s president of operations and communications, told the trade publication Fierce Pharma in December 2020. The name has already been in use in several countries since the drug was approved by Swiss and European regulators last year.

Unfortunately for the Brand Institute, this mash-up of community, immunity, mRNA and covid seemed to be lost on most U.S.-based Twitter users on Monday. Instead, many of their minds drifted to pop culture.

The name reminded many of them of the beloved NBC sitcom “Community.” Others imagined Don Draper from “Mad Men” unveiling the new brand name. “Don Draper pitching a rapt boardroom, everyone’s eyes brimming with tears,” tweeted Slate editor Sam Adams. “ ‘It isn’t just people. It’s … Comirnaty.’ ”

“Comirnaty my cage, and I’ve been doin’ just fine,” tweeted one user, referencing the Killers’s hit song “Mr. Brightside,” which begins, “Coming out of my cage, and I’ve been doin’ just fine.”

Not helping Pfizer/Comirnaty’s case is that, in reality, the Moderna vaccine will have the objectively cooler name: SpikeVax. How utterly metal. As Seth Trueger, an emergency physician at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, put it, “squares can get the now-FDA-approved Pfizer Comirnaty or be a rebel and get the EUAed Spikevax.”

Insider columnist Josh Barro echoed the thought: “TIL the Moderna shot has a cool brand name (‘Spikevax’) and the Pfizer shot has a loser brand name (‘Comirnaty’)”

Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall tweeted, “seriously why even have a name if that’s the name. Just go with Pfizer.”

In the end, like or hate it, “Comirnaty” is here to stay. Perhaps Patrick deHahn, a homepage editor for the National News, summed up the way everyone seems to be feeling about the name best with his simple, straightforward tweet.

“I’m still stuck on the Comirnaty name,” he said.

Read more: