The UK has become the first place in the world to get the OK on an updated version of an existing COVID-19 vaccine to protect people against the Omicron variant.

Per the ABC, a Moderna combination vaccine has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The updated vaccine will target both the original COVID virus from 2020 and the Omicron BA.1 variant which popped up in late 2021. It also reportedly generates a “good immune response” to sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The new bivalent vaccine will initially be rolled out as a booster shot for people over the age of 50 in the UK. It is expected to be a part of the country’s booster program in September as the UK tips into the colder winter months.

This new combo jab follows the same approach as the annual flu shot which is tweaked every year to protect against up to four strains of the influenza virus as it mutates and changes.

Chair of the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed said in a statement that the combo vaccine is the “next step” in combatting the coronavirus.

“The virus, SARS-CoV-2, is continually evolving in order to evade the immunity provided by vaccines,” he said.

“This novel bivalent vaccine represents the next step in the development of vaccines to combat the virus, with its ability to lead to a broader immune response than the original vaccine.”

Moderna has been given six months to apply for provisional registration for the bivalent vaccine in Australia. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said an application doesn’t guarantee it’ll get approved, however.

“Granting of the provisional determination precedes the market authorisation application and does not guarantee approval of the application,” the TGA said in a statement.

Fingers crossed we get some bonus protection over here in time for next winter. Hell, give me a combo flu and rona vax — that’s the dream.

Image: Getty Images / Danny Lawson / PA Images