The UK has become the first to approve a coronavirus vaccine that targets both the original and omicron variants.

The British Medicines Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has approved the so-called bivalent vaccine created by the American pharmaceutical company Moderna for the purpose of vaccinating adults.

The agency's decision is based on the results of clinical trials that showed the booster elicited a strong immune response against both omicron BA.1 and the original virus, which appeared in 2020, the release said.

The agency states that the scientific analysis proved that the vaccine creates a good immune response against the currently dominant variants of omicron BA.4 and BA.5.

The MHRA announcement states that the new formulation of the vaccine does not cause serious side effects.

While existing vaccines still provide good protection when hospitalization and death are involved, vaccine effectiveness has weakened as the virus has evolved.

"The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK continue to offer great protection against disease and save lives," said MHRA chief executive June Raine.

"The new bivalent vaccine offers us a sharper tool that contributes to protection against this disease, while the virus continues to evolve," she added.