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Potential COVID-19 vaccine – BAT in the news

Following our recent announcement on our work towards developing a potential COVID-19 vaccine, some of our senior leaders have made media appearances to further showcase how we can leverage tobacco technology to help combat the virus.

The announcement detailed how the potential vaccine, using new, fast-growing tobacco plant technology, is at the pre-clinical testing stage and that we could potentially manufacture 1-3 million doses of it per week by June.

The story saw BAT trending on Twitter and was picked up by many mainstream media outlets including The Guardian , The New York Times, CNN  and The Wall Street Journal .

Our Chief Marketing Officer, Kingsley Wheaton, appeared on Ian King Live on Sky News in the UK, discussing our proprietary plant-based technology, the role of our biotech subsidiary in the US -  Kentucky Bioprocessing - and how we are committed to helping bring COVID-19 under control.

Kingsley emphasised that the potential vaccine – on which our work is intended to be on a not-for-profit basis – is still in pre-clinical trial and that we continue to work with government agencies around the world. These include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the UK’s Department for Health & Social Care.

“The idea is that that vaccine would work in the same way any anti-viral would work and prepare the body for immunity”, Kingsley said. “With the right partners and in the right ecosystem, we would be able to scale up very quickly.”

Dr David O’Reilly, our Director of Scientific Research, appeared on Bloomberg, where he discussed our science and how tobacco plants offer the potential for faster and safer vaccine development compared to conventional methods.

“We've been working on vaccines in tobacco for a number of years and in 2014 we produced one of the few sources of a treatment for Ebola,” said David. “Since then we turned our attention to the influenza virus and we have some trials on the way with the US government. But, of course, in January it all changed when COVID-19 broke out so we’ve turned our attention to developing a vaccine for coronavirus using the same tobacco technology.”

Over in the U.S., Dr Jim Figlar, head of R&D and scientific affairs at Reynolds American, appeared on the Fox News network to also discuss the potential vaccine. You can watch the interview in full on the Fox News website .