LONDON (AP) - British health authorities have authorized an updated version of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine that aims to protect against the original virus and the omicron variant.
In a statement on Monday, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency said it had given the green light to Moderna's combination "bivalent" vaccine, which will be used as an adult booster shot.
Each dose of the booster shot will target both the original COVID-19 virus that was first detected in late 2019 and the omicron BA.1 variant that was first seen in November. British regulators said the side effects were similar to those seen for Moderna's original booster shot and were typically "mild and self-resolving."
"What this (combination) vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armoury to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve," said Dr June Raine, the head of Britain's health care and medicines regulator.
Such an approach is used with flu shots, which are adjusted each year depending on the variants that are circulating and can protect against four influenza strains.
On Friday, Germany's health minister said the European Medicines Agency might clear the tweaked COVID-19 booster next month.
In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told vaccine makers that any booster shots tweaked for the fall would have to include protection against the newest omicron variants.
According to the World Health Organization, the latest global surge of COVID-19 has been driven by omicron subvariant BA.5, which is responsible about 70% of the virus samples shared with the world's largest public virus database.
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