One of the most prominent discussions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has been the development of a vaccine. Backed by the U.S. government’s “Operation Warp Speed” program, numerous pharmaceutical companies have been creating and testing vaccines at record speed.

Using the Zignal Media Intelligence Cloud (looking at data from March 1 – October 22), we took a closer look at how the conversations around these top pharmaceutical companies and their vaccines have evolved throughout the past few months.


Key Findings


  • The development of a vaccine was the dominant focus of pharmaceutical industry discussion, with about 57% of pharma-related COVID-19 content mentioning the topic.
  • With nearly 800,000 mentions, Moderna saw the most vaccine-related discussion out of pharmaceutical companies.

Companies in Contention



  • AstraZeneca saw its first spike in mentions in May, upon news that the U.S. had secured 300 million doses of a potential vaccine, pledging up to $1.2 billion to help the company accelerate development.
  • The company then received coverage in July, primarily through positive trial news of its vaccine developed in partnership with Oxford.
  • Mentions saw a major spike in August and September, due to AstraZeneca’s failure to comment on two unexplained illnesses during vaccine trials, causing the trials to be put on hold temporarily.
  • AstraZeneca again saw mentions increase in late October upon news that one of its trial participants had died, although the participant was reportedly part of a control group and did not receive the experimental vaccine, allowing the trial to continue without halting.


  • Pfizer saw its first spike in mentions in early May, due to news that the company had begun human trials of a vaccine.
  • The company saw its biggest spike in late July with the announcement of its $2 billion deal with the U.S. government to supply 100 million doses of the vaccine, and potentially 500 million more.
  • Pfizer also received positive coverage on news that the company’s vaccine will be distributed for “free” as part of its 100 million dose deal with the U.S. federal government.

Johnson & Johnson 

  • Johnson & Johnson’s first spike in mentions came at the end of March, when it announced a $1 billion dollar deal with the U.S. government to create manufacturing capabilities for over a billion doses of a potential vaccine.
  • The company saw another spike in mentions in late September, on news that its vaccine was the only major U.S. vaccine that plans to be administered in a single dose, rather than multiple doses.
  • Like AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson saw its largest spike in mid-October due to news of an unexplained illness in one of its volunteers, forcing the company to pause clinical trials.

For other insights and analysis of timely topics, read our other Intelligence Briefs on our Reports page.

For more information and resources related to COVID-19, please visit Zignal’s dedicated COVID-19 Response Page, where you’ll find best practices, data-driven analysis, and shareable content you can leverage in your response to COVID-19.