On Wednesday, the cigarette maker said its biotech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), was developing the vaccine and was currently in pre-clinical testing.
If the testing process goes well, BAT said it was hopeful that with partners and support from government agencies it could manufacture between 1mln-3mln doses of the vaccine per week from June, although it added that the project is being carried out on a not for profit basis.
The company said its tobacco plant technology offered “several advantages” over conventional vaccine production.
BAT said that the product may be “potentially safer” as tobacco plants cannot host pathogens that cause disease in human, adding that the elements of the vaccine will accumulate in tobacco plants “much more quickly” at six weeks in the plants as opposed to several months using conventional methods.
The firm added that the vaccine in development is stable at room temperature, as opposed to requiring refrigeration, and had the potential to “deliver an effective immune response in a single dose”.
BAT is now exploring partnerships with government agencies to bring the vaccine to clinical studies “as soon as possible”.