British American Tobacco, the parent company of Winston-Salem based Reynolds American, is involved in COVID-19 vaccine research. BAT’s US bio-tech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), is developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19 and is now in pre-clinical testing. If testing goes well, BAT is hopeful that, with the right partners and support from government agencies, between 1 and 3 million doses of the vaccine could be manufactured per week, beginning in June.
While KBP remains a commercial operation, the intention is that its work around the COVID-19 vaccine project will be carried out on a not for profit basis.
KBP recently cloned a portion of COVID-19’s genetic sequence which led to the development of a potential antigen – a substance which induces an immune response in the body and in particular, the production of antibodies. This antigen was then inserted into tobacco plants for reproduction and, once the plants were harvested, the antigen was then purified, and is now undergoing pre-clinical testing.