The European Medicines Agency has approved jabs targeting both the original virus and the BA.1 subvariant of Omicron ahead of a feared Covid surge in the latter part of this year.
The EU's drug regulator has approved Covid-19 vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna adapted for the Omicron variant, paving the way for a booster campaign this winter.
The so-called "bivalent" jabs target both the original virus that emerged in 2019 and the BA.1 subvariant of Omicron, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday.
The vaccines are not updated for the newer and more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 types that have become dominant worldwide, with a decision on a jab to counter those variants expected within weeks.
The Amsterdam-based EMA said that the two jabs backed for people aged 12 and above on Thursday were the "first adapted Covid-19 booster vaccines recommended for approval in the EU".
"These vaccines are adapted versions of the original vaccines Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech) and Spikevax (Moderna) to target the Omicron BA.1 subvariant in addition to the original strain of SARS-CoV-2," it said.
European nations have been keen to rush through the new generation of jabs so they can start booster campaigns ahead of a feared Covid surge in the latter part of this year.
The EMA said that studies showed that the new jabs could "trigger strong immune responses" against Covid. It said that "in particular, they were more effective at triggering immune responses against the BA.1 subvariant than the original vaccines."
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said she expected the EMA to rule on vaccines adapted for the now-dominant BA.4 and 5 strains "in the coming weeks."
Pfizer recently applied for authorisation for a vaccine adapted against the two newer types.
The United States authorised its first anti-Omicron vaccines on Wednesday, approving Pfizer and Moderna jabs for the BA.4 and BA.5 strains. Britain authorised the Moderna vaccine for the BA.1 type in mid-August.
The 27-nation EU is currently still using the same coronavirus vaccines that were approved nearly two years ago for use against the original strain.
The race has been on to produce jabs that also target the milder but more infectious Omicron strains.
While previous "variants of concern" like Alpha and Delta eventually petered out, Omicron and its sublineages have dominated throughout 2022.
The BA.4 and BA.5 types have in particular helped to drive a wave of new cases of the disease in Europe and the United States in recent months.