A CIGARETTE manufacturer says it is developing a potential vaccine to combat the deadly coronavirus – using tobacco plants.
Benson and Hedges maker British American Tobacco (BAT) said it could produce 3 million doses a week by June to combat COVID-19.
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According to the Guardian the company said: “If testing goes well, BAT is hopeful that, with the right partners and support from government agencies, between 1m and 3m doses of the vaccine could be manufactured per week, beginning in June."
The company says it will begin clinical trials on humans soon and is currently running pre-clinical tests.
The treatment is being developed by the company's bio-health division, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP).
KBP previously come up with a drug to combat Ebola.
It claims to have found an antibody that appears to fight COVID-19, using genetically modified tobacco plants.
BAT says it is holding urgent talks with US drug authorities to fast-track permissions.
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Owen Bennett of Investment firm Jefferies said: "It helps to illustrate the scientific sophistication at big tobacco."
Scientific research director David O’Reilly said: “Vaccine development is challenging and complex work, but we believe we have made a significant break-through with our tobacco plant technology platform and stand ready to work with governments and all stakeholders to help win the war against Covid-19.
“KBP has been exploring alternative uses of the tobacco plant for some time.
"One such alternative use is the development of plant-based vaccines.
"We are committed to contributing to the global effort to halt the spread of Covid-19 using this technology.”
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