Tobacco company may produce coronavirus vaccine

British American Tobacco recently announced that it is working on a potential vaccine for coronavirus through its US biotech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP).

Injecting syringe for vaccination (illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Injecting syringe for vaccination (illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Paradoxically, and while reports that smoking increases the risk of complications from the COVID-19, one of the world's largest tobacco companies may be the one to produce the eagerly-awaited vaccine for the virus.
British American Tobacco recently announced that it is working on a potential vaccine for coronavirus through its US biotech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP). There researchers are working on developing a vaccine and have already reached pre-clinical stage. In a press release, the company said it hoped to produce between 1-3 million vaccines a week starting in June.
In 2014, KBP made headlines as one of the few companies to find effective treatment for Ebola.  KBP members recently cloned part of the coronavirus genetic sequence, leading to the development of a potential antigen - a substance that stimulates immune response in the body and produces antibodies.  Antigen was then introduced to the tobacco plants for reproduction, and once the plants were harvested, the antigen underwent a purification process and is now undergoing pre-clinical testing.
Dr. David Orley, Director of Scientific Research at BAT noted, “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. We fully align with the United Nations plea, for a whole-of-society approach to combat global problems.”
“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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