British American Tobacco Gets Greenlight To Test Its Coronavirus Vaccine On Humans

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Rowan Saydlowski Contributor
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London-based cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco (BAT) said Wednesday that it has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin human trials for its coronavirus vaccine.

BAT produces cigarette brands such as Lucky Strike, Rothmans, and Benson & Hedges. The vaccine is being developed by BAT’s biotechnology division, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), according to a report by the Guardian. (RELATED: Company Approved To Begin Human Trials Of Nasal COVID-19 Vaccine)

The press release published by BAT on Wednesday says that their vaccine can be produced in just six weeks, compared to the multi-month production times of its competitors. This is reportedly achieved through technology that allows the vaccine components to be quickly grown on tobacco plants.

BAT’s vaccine also differs from several of its competitors because it is reportedly stable at room temperature. Pfizer’s vaccine, which is currently being administered in the United States, must be stored at around negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Several other vaccine candidates, like AstraZeneca’s candidate, can be stored at normal refrigerated temperatures. (RELATED: FDA Review Reaffirms Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine’s Safety, Efficacy)

“Moving into human trials with both our COVID-19 and seasonal flu vaccine candidates is a significant milestone and reflects our considerable efforts to accelerate the development of our emerging biologicals portfolio,” Dr. David O’Reilly, BAT’s director of scientific research, said, according to the press release. “It is our unique plant-based vaccine technology, which acts as a fast, efficient host for the production of antigens for a variety of diseases, that has enabled us to make this progress and respond to the urgent global need for safe and effective treatments and vaccines.”

BAT/KBP’s vaccine candidate is not currently licensed for use in any country.