This Is What's Really in the COVID Vaccine

Kali Coleman
·3 min read

The first coronavirus vaccines have already been administered in the United States, just days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer's emergency use authorization appeal. Unfortunately, even a stamp of approval from the FDA isn't enough to calm some people's fears. According to the Pew Research Center, around 40 percent of Americans say they most likely won't get a COVID vaccine. And it doesn't help that a plethora of vaccine myths are making the rounds, including one that claims the vaccine includes a microchip that will be injected into the recipient's body. For the sake of transparency, Pfizer has just released information on the 10 ingredients that actually make up their COVID vaccine. Read on for a breakdown of all the ingredients, and for more misinformation worth clearing up, Dr. Fauci Just Debunked the 4 Biggest Myths About the COVID Vaccine.

Messenger RNA

male getting vaccinated against coronavirus
male getting vaccinated against coronavirus

Messenger RNA, otherwise known as mRNA, is the only active ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), once injected, this molecule will help human cells create a "spike protein," which is what is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID. This, in turn, forces an immune system response that creates antibodies in order to attack this added protein—without ever having to "risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19." In other words, this will allow our bodies to learn how to fight against a potential future coronavirus infection. And for more on how the vaccine will work, Your COVID Vaccine Could Protect You for This Long, Expert Says.

Lipids

A doctor wearing blue gloves fills a syringe with COVID vaccine.
A doctor wearing blue gloves fills a syringe with COVID vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine also contains four lipids. Three of them are chemicals with complex names, and the fourth is cholesterol. According to The New York Times, these lipids join to form a "greasy, protective bubble" around the mRNA because this molecule is naturally very fragile and could be easily destroyed if not surrounded. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Sugar

Bottles with COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Coronavirus vaccine vial. Copy space provided. Note: QR code on bottles was generated by me and contains generic text: "SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine"
Bottles with COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Coronavirus vaccine vial. Copy space provided. Note: QR code on bottles was generated by me and contains generic text: "SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine"

Sucrose, otherwise known as sugar, is also included in the Pfizer vaccine ingredients. According to The New York Times, sugar is simply added to protect the vaccine's nanoparticles from clumping up when they are placed in storage. After all, the Pfizer vaccine has to be kept extremely cold, stored at -70 degrees Celsius. And if you're eager for immunization, Here's When the COVID Vaccine Is Coming to Your Local Pharmacy.

Salts

Medical researcher uses a dropper to place a red sample onto a microscope slide
Medical researcher uses a dropper to place a red sample onto a microscope slide

The last four ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine are all salts: potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sodium chloride—the latter of which is just table salt. As The New York Times explains, these salts are used in many vaccines, as they help a vaccine match its contents to the "environment of the human body," which contains a mixture of natural salts already. And for a side effect to be aware of, The COVID Vaccine Could Temporarily Paralyze This Body Part, FDA Warns.