According to The Guardian, the second-largest cigarette maker in the world, British American Tobacco, is on its way to find a tobacco-based coronavirus vaccine. At the moment, more than 1.225.000 people have COVID-19 and about 70,000 have died.
BAT claims that tobacco plants offer a safer method for a vaccine to be developed “given that tobacco plants cannot host pathogens which cause human disease,” as BAT officials stated.
When compared to the conventional methods used, the tobacco plant can also work faster, not just safer. The plant is used to purify the antigen BAT claims they have developed and that they hope it will work as a vaccine basis against the coronavirus.
It isn’t the BAT itself that developed the antigen but Kentucky BioProcessing, the US biotech subsidiary that BAT bought in 2014. Kentucky BioProcessing has a history in fighting pandemics, its former try was in the time of Ebola.
About the research on the tobacco-based coronavirus vaccine
Scientists at Kentucky BioProcessing first cloned a genetic sequence of the coronavirus and used it to create an antigen. The tobacco plants were then used as a reproduction crucible, from which purified antigens were collected. The purified antigen could hopefully bind with an antibody that could end up killing the virus.
The next step is pre-clinical testing. It everything goes as planned ant the antigen proves to be efficient, BAT claims that starting June, up to 3 million doses of the vaccine could be manufactured every week.
Also, the Food and Drug Administration in the US and the Department for Health and Social Care in the UK were offered support by BAT and access to their research.
“Vaccine development is challenging and complex work but we believe we have made a significant breakthrough with our tobacco plant technology platform, and we stand ready to work with governments and all stakeholders to help win the war against COVID-19,” said Dr. David O’Reilly, the director of scientific research at British American Tobacco, the company that’s close to a.coronavirus vaccine.