Will big tobacco create the first Covid-19 vaccine?
Tobacco giant British American Tobacco Plc’s biotech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing, has developed an experimental COVID-19 vaccine where pre-clinical tests showed positive responses and the first phase of human trials could begin as early as late June. Drug makers around the world (including US, Europe, and China) are testing immunization based on a virus-like particle that is found in the tobacco plant.
The vaccine is derived from the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19). This method is able to generate the vaccine faster, reducing the time to about six weeks from several months, because the elements of the vaccine accumulate a lot faster in tobacco plants.
Given the scale of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no surprise that companies are looking to diversify their business activities by 1) meeting consumer demand for a vaccine, electricity, or basic consumer needs, to name a few; and 2) increasing business productivity and ensuring viability by gaining access to funding.
Big pharma companies, being both a monopoly and oligopoly, already have the upper hand when it comes to gaining access to investment funds and smaller healthcare companies are having to play catch up in order to benefit from the same pool of money. One essential way that smaller companies can gain access to a greater pool or potential funds is by having an ESG policy as part of their core business. We forecast that there will be USD 25 trillion in ESG filtered investing assets available in 2020, up from $17.5trn in 2018.