People walk past the British American Tobacco offices in London, Britain. Picture: REUTERS
People walk past the British American Tobacco offices in London, Britain. Picture: REUTERS

Bengaluru — British American Tobacco (BAT), the world's number two cigarette company, said on Friday that it was ready to test its potential Covid-19 vaccine using proteins from tobacco leaves on humans, after it generated a positive immune response in pre-clinical trials.

The maker of Lucky Strike cigarette said once it gets approval from the US Food and Drug administration (FDA) for the vaccine, it would progress to phase 1 trials — testing on humans.

The company raised eyebrows in April when it said it was developing a Covid-19 vaccine from tobacco leaves and could produce one-million to three-million doses per week if it got the support of government agencies and the right manufacturers.

Drugmakers across the globe have been racing to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, caused by the new coronavirus, with some of the vaccines already in human trials. Experts have suggested that a Covid-19 vaccine could take 12-18 months to develop.

On Friday, London-based BAT said it had submitted a pre-investigative new drug application to the FDA and that the agency had acknowledged the submission. BAT said it was also talking to other government agencies around the world about the vaccine.

The company said it had committed funds to conduct clinical trials, which it expects to start as soon as late June, and invested in additional equipment to boost capacity.

Shares of the company were up 1.7% at 3,041 pence in afternoon trading on the London Stock Exchange.

Reuters