Tobacco giant British American Tobacco has said that it is working on a potential coronavirus vaccine through its bio-tech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), with the first batches possibly ready by June of this year.
The firm said that the vaccine is being developed using tobacco plant technology, which the firm says offers the potential for 'faster and safer' vaccine development.
It said that should pre-clinical testing go well, it is hopeful that between one million and three million doses of the vaccine could be manufactured per week beginning in June.
The company confirmed that the work being undertaken by KBP is being done so on a not-for-profit basis.
“We are engaged with the US Food and Drug Administration and are seeking guidance on next steps," commented David O’Reilly, Director of Scientific Research, BAT.
"We have also engaged with the UK’s Department for Health and Social Care, and BARDA in the US, to offer our support and access to our research with the aim of trying to expedite the development of a vaccine for COVID-19."
O'Reilly added that vaccine development is "challenging and complex work", but said that the company has 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".
In 2014, BAT's KBP subsidiary made headlines as it developed an effective treatment for ebola, developing ZMapp alongside Mapp BioPharmaceuticals in partnership with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
Earlier this week, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson said that it too was working on a potential coronavirus vaccine, with an eye on having it ready for use in early 2021.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.