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What are the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines?

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines both contain messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). This mRNA provides instructions for making a protein of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The viral protein induces your body to produce antibodies that protect in case of infection with SARS-CoV-2.

The Moderna vaccine's other ingredients include lipids, acetic acid, tromethamine, sodium acetate, and sucrose. Lipids stabilize mRNA and help transport mRNA into cells so that it can provide instructions for making the viral protein.

Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine also contains lipids in addition to salts and sugar.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine also contains instructions for making a viral protein of SARS-CoV-2. These instructions are not in the form of mRNA but are inserted via a harmless adenovirus vector. The adenovirus vector is modified to contain genetic information for the viral protein. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine also has citrate, ethanol, salts, sugar, and polysorbate 80, which helps stabilize the vaccine. (Note: On Tuesday, April 13th, 2021, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocated to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine "out of an abundance of caution." For more information, click here.)

Updated 13 April 2021

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