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Big Tobacco is looking at a world full of people paranoid about their respiratory health. It is not the best place to be, considering their industry is built on plants that destroy respiratory function. It is not surprising that tobacco companies want the world to go back to normal as much as the rest of us.
As a result, both Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco Plc have begin research into a possible COVID-19 vaccination using their plants. While British American Tobacco Plc is using the tobacco plants themselves to grow their vaccine, Phillip Morris is working with a company they have invested heavily in - Medicago, and Phillip Morris is using an unspecified relative of the tobacco plant.
Basically, they are using their plants to grow a vaccine using virus-like particles. The plants are used to grow pieces of proteins that are similar to the virus, but are not viruses. Because they are not viruses, the proteins cannot replicate themselves or attack cells like a living virus. Because they are similar in composition to a virus, the body will still fight the proteins off and gain immunity to the virus in the process.
It is not a particularly new or unique way of attempting vaccines. It is also a sensible route for companies who have lots of facilities to grow plants to grow vaccines in those plants. At the end of the day, they’re one of many, many companies with a foot in biotech looking into ways they can research cures or vaccines for the coronavirus.
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