British American Tobacco working on COVID-19 vaccine using tobacco leaves, says report

By Jamaica Observer

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A stock photo of a Nurse preparing a vaccination

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Reuters news agency is reporting that British American Tobacco says its US biotech unit is working on a potential vaccine for COVID-19 using proteins extracted from tobacco leaves.

According to the Reuters report, the company said on Wednesday that Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), the unit developing the vaccine, could produce between one million and three million doses per week starting in June, with support from US government agencies and the right manufacturers.

“British American Tobacco said KBP, a division of BAT’s US unit Reynolds American Inc, would develop the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis,” the Reuters story said.

“The vaccine, currently undergoing pre-clinical testing, uses a cloned portion of COVID-19’s genetic sequence to create an antigen that is then inserted into tobacco plants for reproduction,” Reuters added.

“Once harvested, the antigens — substances that induce an immune response in the body — are extracted and purified and inserted into the body to fight the virus, the company said, adding that the formulation it is developing is stable at room temperature, unlike conventional vaccines which often require refrigeration,” the Reuters report added.


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