Cigarette maker British American Tobacco PLC has made a potential COVID-19 vaccine from tobacco. The company is set to begin testing its experimental COVID-19 vaccine made from tobacco in humans.
The London-based maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes has claimed to have developed the inoculation using protein from tobacco leaves.
The company is likely to start the human clinical trials of its potential vaccine soon and is expecting a response from the US Food and Drug Administration any day now, Kingsley Wheaton, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucky Strike cigarettes said in an interview, Bloomberg reported.
"We are optimistic," Wheaton said adding that "it's an important part of our strategy to try and build a better tomorrow."
The company had earlier said that its experimental vaccine has manifested a positive immune response in pre-clinical human trials.
British American Tobacco had in April announced that its subsidiary Kentucky BioProcessing is developing an experimental coronavirus vaccine made from tobacco plants. The potential inoculation is derived from the genetic sequence of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to the company, the process generates the vaccine faster than traditional approaches, reducing the time required from several months to around six weeks.
Tobacco makers globally have quickened their pace to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 that has claimed over 6.5 lakh lives worldwide.
However, the success rate of such programmes is usually 10 per cent, World Health Organisation's Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said last week, adding that there are 24 such vaccine candidates in human clinical trials.
Medicago Inc., a biotechnology firm partly owned by rival cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris International Inc., is also in the process of making a plant-based vaccine that may be accessible in the first half of 2021, if it is successful.