Covid-19 vaccine candidate by world No. 2 cigarette maker gets US approval for human trials

The world's No. 2 cigarette company is developing a Covid-19 vaccine.
The world's No. 2 cigarette company is developing a Covid-19 vaccine.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A Covid-19 vaccine being developed by British American Tobacco (BAT) from tobacco leaves has been approved for human trials by the United States health regulator, the maker of Dunhill and Lucky Strike cigarettes said on Wednesday (Dec 16).

The enrolment for the study is expected to start shortly, with results likely by mid-2021, the company said.

The world's No. 2 cigarette company raised eyebrows in April when it said it was developing a Covid-19 vaccine and would be able to produce one million to three million doses a week if it had the support of government agencies and the right manufacturers.

The approval for Phase 1 trials comes at a time when Britain and the United States have started rolling out vaccines made by Pfizer and German drug company BioNTech over the past two weeks.

"Moving into human trials with both our Covid-19 and seasonal flu vaccine candidates is a significant milestone," BAT's director of scientific research David O'Reilly said.

The Covid-19 vaccine is being developed by the company's biotech arm Kentucky BioProcessing.