By Alex Trelinski •
Published: 01 Apr 2020 • 16:34
IN an ironic health twist, the manufacturer of famous international cigarette brands like Dunhill, Camel and Lucky Strike, has announced that its biotech unit in America is working on a vaccine for the coronavirus.
British American Tobacco (BAT) said that its scientists were looking to develop the potential vaccine by using protein obtained from tobacco leaves.
The vaccine is in a pre-clinical testing phase and uses a cloned part of the Covid-19 genetic sequence to make an antigen that is then inserted into tobacco plants for reproduction.
Antigens produce an immune response in the human body, and they would be extracted and then used in an injection.
BAT claim that it could make up to three million doses per week from June, provided it received enough support from manufacturers and approval from the US government.
It added that the vaccine would not be made for profit.
BAT said it was working with the US Food and Drug Administration on the next steps and was also talking with UK health authorities to bring its vaccine to clinical studies as soon as possible.
“We believe we have made a significant breakthrough with our tobacco plant technology platform and stand ready to work with governments and all stakeholders to help win the war against Covid-19,” said David O’Reilly, director of Scientific Research at BAT.
The company has previous form in medicine, as a few years ago it claimed to have created a vaccine against the Ebola virus, which was not given approval to be used by American authorities.
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