With the whole world is racing against time to develop a vaccine against coronavirus infection, British American Tobacco, one of the largest cigarette makers in the world, is all set to start testing their potential vaccine in humans.
The London-based maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes claimed that it has made vaccine using protein from tobacco leaves. The tobacco maker expects a response from the US Food and Drug Administration any day now, Kingsley Wheaton, chief marketing officer, Lucky Strike cigarettes, said, according to Bloomberg.
“We’re optimistic,” Wheaton said. “It’s an important part of our strategy to try and build a better tomorrow,” he added. The company earlier said that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine has shown a positive immune response in pre-clinical trial.
How BAT has made a potential COVID-19 vaccine from tobacco
In April, British American Tobacco announced that its subsidiary Kentucky BioProcessing is making an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. The company uses tobacco plants in developing a potential vaccine, which is derived from the genetic sequence of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. According to the company, the method generates the vaccine faster than conventional approaches, reducing the time required from several months to about six weeks.
Tobacco makers across the globe have been jumping into the race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 that has claimed more than 6.5 lakh lives. Medicago Inc., a biotechnology company partly owned by rival cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc., is also developing a plant-based vaccine that could be available in the first half of 2021, if it’s successful.
There are 24 vaccine candidates in clinical trials, though the success rate of such programs is normally 10%, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said last week.
Making a coronavirus vaccine using tobacco plants stands in stark contrast to the effects of other related products on health. Smoking cigarettes may raise the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, according to the World Health Organization.