UK is first to approve updated Moderna omicron vax

The United Kingdom on Monday became the first country to approve an updated COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna targeting the omicron variant as well as the original strain of the virus.


The move is a step toward a booster campaign that could provide people with better protection against the variants that are currently circulating.


“The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives,” said June Raine, chief executive of the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. “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.”


A different twist than the US: The United States is also working on updated vaccines for a possible fall booster campaign, though the shots might be slightly different.

  • The vaccine approved by the U.K. targets the first version of the omicron variant, known as BA.1
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has instructed vaccine makers to target the more recent subvariants of omicron, known as BA.4 and BA.5.

The U.K. regulator on Monday said the updated Moderna vaccine was shown to provide a “strong immune response” against BA.1 as well as BA.4 and BA.5.