A major tobacco firm has announced it is developing a coronavirus vaccine that may possibly be ready as early as June.

British American Tobacco’s (BAT) bio-tech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing, said it is using tobacco plant to develop up to three million doses a week by the start of summer.

BAT said the vaccine is now in pre-clinical testing and has the potential to offer a safer and faster way to develop vaccines than traditional methods.

BAT, famous for its Lucky Strike cigarettes, said it needs the "right partners and support from government agencies" to be successful.

The group is currently in talks with the US Food and Drug Administration and UK's Department of Health and Social Care as it seeks a global effort to create the vaccine.

The group is currently in talks with the US Food and Drug Administration and UK's Department of Health and Social Care

Dr David O'Reilly, director of scientific research at BAT, said: "Vaccine development is challenging and complex work, but we believe we have made a significant breakthrough with our tobacco plant technology platform and stand ready to work with governments and all stakeholders to help win the war against Covid-19.

"We fully align with the United Nations plea, for a whole-of-society approach to combat global problems."

The firm said Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP) has been looking at alternative uses of tobacco plants for some time, including plant-based vaccines.

It was one of the few firms that helped develop an effective treatment for Ebola in 2014.

The company added that KBP would be developing the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis.

The company is famous for its Lucky Strike cigarettes

Tobacco plant technology is thought to have advantages over traditional vaccine development methods as it can see vaccines accumulate in the plants in just six weeks, instead of months.

It is also possibly safer because tobacco plants cannot host pathogens which cause human disease.

And they have the potential to deliver an effective immune response in a single dose, according to BAT.

"We are committed to contributing to the global effort to halt the spread of Covid-19 using this technology," added Dr O'Reilly.