To bear away at least some of its paap, one of the world’s top tobacco companies has been working assiduously to develop a vaccine for novel coronavirus. And yesterday it claimed to have successfully developed an experimental vaccine that has shown promise in laboratory testing and is now ready to experiment on humans.
London-based British American Tobacco is the world’s No. 2 manufacturer of cigarettes, the leading cause of lung cancer across the world. “We have committed funds to conduct these clinical trials, which could start as early as late June, pending the responses from relevant health bodies,” British American Tobacco claimed in a statement, adding that it is in touch with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies across the world.
Interestingly, British American Tobacco’s experimental shot for the novel coronavirus does not find a mention on the World Health Organisation’s global database of vaccine candidates for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus. The database, which was last updated on May 11, however, is not meant to be exhaustive and currently lists 110 potential vaccines.
Research into a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is happening at an unprecedented pace with scientists skipping or clubbing several stages of development. The expert view is that a novel coronavirus vaccine is still around two years away.
Coronavirus’ tobacco connection
British American Tobacco’s experimental vaccine is based on an artificially built fragment of the novel coronavirus, called an ‘antigen’, which is inserted into tobacco plants for reproduction. The idea is that this antigen, which is essentially a component of the novel coronavirus, would generate an immune response from the body when administered to human beings.