What are the Ingredients and Excipients in the COVID-19 Vaccines? Update including Novavax Vaccine

What’s in a vaccine?
With the emergence of COVID-19, the crucial role that vaccines play in protecting our health has come into sharp focus. During this pandemic hope comes in the form of a vaccine and immunologists around the world are working to develop a vaccine that will protect us against infection by this new coronavirus. It’s important to understand and address vaccine concerns that are prominent in public discussion and may lead to hesitancy to vaccination. Here we discuss questions about the ingredients found in a vaccine.(Source: www.immunology.org)

Source: www.immunology.org

Why you can’t compare Covid-19 vaccines

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (Nuvaxovid) ingredients
(source EMA)

One dose (0.5 mL) contains 5 micrograms of the of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein* and is adjuvanted with Matrix-M.
Adjuvant Matrix-M containing per 0.5 mL dose: Fraction-A (42.5 micrograms) and Fraction-C (7.5 micrograms) of Quillaja saponaria Molina extract.


  • Disodium hydrogen phosphate heptahydrate
  • Sodium dihydrogen phosphate monohydrate
  • Sodium chloride
  • 聚山梨酯80
    Sodium hydroxide (for adjustment of pH)
  • Hydrochloric acid (for adjustment of pH)
  • Water for injections

Adjuvant (Matrix-M)

  • Cholesterol
  • Phosphatidylcholine (including all-rac-α-Tocopherol)
  • Potassium dihydrogen phosphate
  • Potassium chloride
  • Disodium hydrogen phosphate dihydrate
  • Sodium chloride
  • Water for injections

Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine ingredients(Source cdc.gov)

One dose (o.5 ml) contains: Recombinant, replication- incompetent Ad26 vector, encoding a stabilized variant of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein

  • Polysorbate-80
  • 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin
  • Citric acid monohydrate
  • Trisodium citrate dihydrate
  • Sodium chloride
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Ethanol
  • Water for injection

Vaccine Preparation and Administration Summary

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ingredients(Source Gov.UK)
One dose (0.5 ml) contains: COVID-19 Vaccine (ChAdOx1-S* recombinant) 5 × 10^10 viral particles (vp)

*Recombinant, replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus vector encoding the SARS CoV 2 Spike (S) glycoprotein. Produced in genetically modified human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells.


  • L-Histidine
  • L-Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate
  • Magnesium chloride hexahydrate
  • 聚山梨酯80
  • Ethanol
  • Sucrose
  • Sodium chloride
  • Disodium edetate dihydrate
  • Water for injections

mRNA vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna
Covid-19 vaccination has been a big topic and we were curious on the role of excipients in such formulations. Not surprisingly both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna (source FDA) have quite similar compositions: Active Ingredient,Lipidsand a saline solution. Lipid (oil) “bubbles” are tiny bubbles of lipid (oil) surround and protect the mRNA so cells in your body can pick it up both vaccines have Cholesterol as part of the composition. The Saline (salt) solutions are also different. Pfizer-BioNTech uses a common type of saline called phosphate buffer solution, or PBS. Moderna uses a tris buffer which aims to make the pH level of the vaccine close to that of our bodies. (Kerry McGee, MD)

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty®) ingredients(Source FDA)
mRNA (nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2)


  • (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
  • 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
  • 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine
  • Cholesterol

  • Potassium chloride
  • Monobasic potassium phosphate
  • Sodium chloride
  • Dibasic sodium phosphate dehydrate


  • Sucrose

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (Spikevax®) ingredients(Source FDA)
mRNA (Nucleoside-modified mRNA encoding the viral spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2)


  • SM-102
  • 1,2-dimyristoyl-rac-glycero3-methoxypolyethylene glycol-2000 [PEG2000-DMG]
  • 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]
  • Cholesterol

  • Tromethamine
  • Tromethamine hydrochloride
  • Acetic acid
  • Sodium acetate


  • Sucrose

成功的药物开发与合成lipids: critical aspects and strategies

Lipids are gaining enhanced momentum due to their vital role in the field of RNA therapeutics and vaccine development for diseases such as cancer and COVID-19.Read more in this article

COVID-19 vaccines and the role of other potential allergenic components different from PEG

Article by Natalija Novak, Cezmi Akdis, and Beatriz Cabanillas from the University Bonn and Zürich. January 25, 2021 – preprint / not peer-reviewed.COVID-19 vaccines and the role of other potential allergenic components different from PEG


Read more about theWorld Immunization Weekhere:

World Immunization Week

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