PMI and Medicago End Partnership Following Covid-19 Vaccine Rejection

Philip Morris International (PMI) and health group Medicago Inc. have severed ties in response to the latter’s Covid-19 vaccine rejection by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“Tobacco corporations, vaccines and governments don’t mix well and we applaud the expulsion of Philip Morris from the Medicago collaboration,” said Les Hagen, the executive director of a not-for-profit organization ASH Canada, said in a recent statement.

Medicago, which is owned by Mitsubishi Chemical, Philip Morris and Glaxo, has developed Covifenz, the world’s first plant-based Covid vaccine. The vaccine was cleared for use by the Canadian government, however the government of Quebec previously said it wanted to help Medicago replace its shareholder Philip Morris International with another investor so that the biotech firm can distribute its Covifenz Covid-19 vaccine internationally.

Covid-19 vaccines
Meanwhile in 2020, it was announced that KBP, an American subsidiary of PMI’s competitor British American Tobacco (BAT), was carrying out clinical trials on a potential vaccine for the Coronavirus. BAT said at the time that it was “hopeful that, with the right partners and support from government agencies, between 1 and 3 million doses of the vaccine could be manufactured per week.”

The vaccine is using BAT’s proprietary, a fast-growing tobacco plant technology, which is safer than conventional vaccine production. In the press release announcing the vaccine, it was emphasized that while KBP is a commercial operation, the company’s intention for the Covid-19 vaccine project is that any work related to it will be “carried out on a not for profit basis.”