Philip Morris International and the health group Medicago have severed ties after the World Health Organization rejected Medicago’s Covid-19 vaccine, according to a tobacco control body.
Covifenz, the world’s first plant-based Covid-19 vaccine, was jointly developed by Medicago, which is owned by Mitsubishi Chemical, Philip Morris and Glaxo, according to Bloomberg. The Canadian government, which provided $173 million in funding for its development, has cleared it for use.
The government of Quebec previously said it wanted to help Medicago replace its shareholder PMI with another investor so that the biotech firm can distribute its Covifenz Covid-19 vaccine internationally.
“Tobacco corporations, vaccines and governments don’t mix well, and we applaud the expulsion of Philip Morris from the Medicago collaboration,” Les Hagen, the executive director of not-for-profit organization ASH Canada, said in a statement.
Medicago’s request for an emergency-use listing was denied earlier this year by the World Health Organization because of the links with tobacco industry.
Earlier this year, Medicago announced it would cut 62 jobs at its manufacturing facility in Durham, North Carolina, USA, which played a key role in producing the company’s tobacco plant-based Covid-19 vaccine.