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Combination COVID booster targeting Omicron approved in U.K.

The United Kingdom is now the first country to authorize a COVID-19 booster shot that targets both the highly-infectious Omicron variant as well as the original virus strain from early in the pandemic, CNN reports Monday.

The so-called "bivalent" shot, which is an updated version of the one made by Moderna, was approved for adults by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency "after it was found to meet the U.K. regulator's standards of safety, quality and effectiveness," said an official government release. "No serious safety concerns were identified."

The MHRA described any side effects of the bivalent shot to be the same as the original Moderna booster, as well as "typically mild and self-resolving." The U.K.'s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will ultimately advise on rollout and eligibility, CNN notes, though CNBC reports the booster is expected to become available in the fall.

"The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines being used in the U.K. continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives," said MHRA Chief Executive Dr. June Raine. "What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armoury to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve."