Comirnaty®, colloquially known as the Pfizer vaccine, is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine indicated for active immunization to prevent COVID-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This vaccine by BioNTech/Pfizer received full FDA approval on August 23, 2021, after entering the market in 2020 on an Emergency Use Authorization.
Comirnaty was developed from technology licensed from the NIH. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) inventors and their collaborators had already developed a stabilized prefusion coronavirus spike protein that could be used as a vaccine antigen to cause neutralizing antibody responses. Once the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence was released members of the same collaborative team worked to generate an engineered version of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and the mRNA to generate it upon delivery. This allows the body to create an immune response so that the body can see a novel coronavirus before a person gets infected and therefore prevent that infection.
NIH’s ongoing research allowed for BioNTech/Pfizer to quickly develop a vaccine and bring it to market based on NIH technologies. If you are interested in seeing what NIH has to offer, you can search through available technologies here.