Lo que nadie esperaba: el tabaco podría tener la cura para la Covid-19

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A todos tomó por sorpresa la noticia cuando la American British Tobacco (BAT) anunció que preparaba una vacuna para el nuevo coronavirus que ha puesto en jaque a las economías y sociedades del mundo, el SARS-COV-2, pero la tarde de este viernes la sorpresa se convirtió en asombro.

En un comunicado, la BAT, segunda mayor compañía de cigarros del mundo, informó que está lista para probar en humanos su potencial vacuna para el covid-19 a base de proteínas de las hojas de tabaco, luego que generó una respuesta inmune positiva en ensayos preclínicos.

BAT, que produce la marca Lucky Strike, indicó que una vez que obtenga la aprobación de la vacuna de la Administración de Drogas y Alimentos de Estados Unidos (FDA, por sus siglas en inglés), pasaría a los ensayos o pruebas de fase 1 en humanos.

La empresa generó sorpresa el mes pasado cuando dijo que estaba desarrollando una vacuna para el covid-19 a partir de hojas de tabaco y que podría producir entre 1 y 3 millones de dosis por semana si contara con el apoyo de las agencias gubernamentales y los fabricantes adecuados.

Expertos han dicho que una vacuna para el covid-19 podría tardar entre 12 y 18 meses en desarrollarse.

La empresa cigarrera señaló que está en conversaciones con agencias gubernamentales de todo el mundo sobre la vacuna y destacó que ha comprometido fondos para realizar ensayos clínicos, que espera comenzar a principios de junio, e invirtió en equipos adicionales para aumentar la capacidad.

Aquí el comunicado completo:

BAT makes progress on COVID-19 vaccine & provides community support

Our potential COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to produce a positive immune response and is poised to move to the next phase of testing.

We are committed to creating A Better Tomorrow for all our stakeholders. We are continuing to evolve and build on the many initiatives we have in place to address the global impact of COVID-19.

Additionally, we are ensuring the well-being of our staff around the world and making sure our business continues to operate effectively in these challenging times, whilst providing many forms of direct support.

Vaccine development

In April, BAT announced that its biotech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), was developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

Since then, we have been completing pre-clinical testing and are pleased to report the potential vaccine has been shown to produce a positive immune response. As such, the vaccine candidate is now poised to progress to the next stage which will be Phase 1 human clinical trials pending FDA authorisation.

We have committed funds to conduct these clinical trials, which could start as early as late June, pending the responses from relevant health bodies. We have also invested in additional equipment to boost our manufacturing capabilities should they be needed.

We have submitted our Pre-Investigative New Drug package to the U.S. FDA who have acknowledged its submission whilst our correspondence with other government agencies around the world continues.  We are hopeful to receive further feedback in the coming weeks.

Other forms of direct support

In addition, as our Chief Executive, Jack Bowles recently highlighted, we are contributing in several other ways including:

  •  Loaning the UK government equipment from our R&D laboratory for use in COVID-19 testing centres
  •  Utilising our 3D printers to make components that will be used in protective face shields
  •  Donating funds to one of our suppliers to secure the manufacture of 25,000 more protective face shields
  •  In several international markets, such as Brazil and Kenya, we’re using our distribution networks to ensure that medical and hygiene equipment reaches vulnerable communities
  •  In Bangladesh, our factory is making a first batch of 60,000 bottles of hand sanitiser
  •  In the U.S. specifically;
    •  The Reynolds Foundation donated to the COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County, N.C.
    •  Our U.S. subsidiary partnered with North Carolina Gov. Cooper and the N.C. Department of Emergency Management donating N95 masks
    •  Whilst also donating provisions to the King Outreach Ministry, a local crisis-intervention organisation

These global efforts are complemented by donations to emergency and disaster funds, supporting governments as they fight the pandemic on a national scale.

Evolving support

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the type of support required globally, and in the communities where we operate, will undoubtedly change. BAT’s support around the world will flex and evolve, responding to the ever-changing needs that this crisis creates.

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