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Last year, as coronavirus stocks became a thing, Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) was one of the early front runners, and investors pinned hopes on the biotech’s potential Covid-19 DNA vaccine INO-4800. But the company has been unable to complete its program while others have progressed passed regulatory hurdles and brought their respective vaccines to market. In fact, the phase 3 portion of the U.S. trial is still on hold, as questions still remain regarding the proprietary delivery device via which the vaccine is administered. Following the FDA’s halt, the government also pulled the plug on the funding of INO-4800’s development.
But Inovio has turned to other regions to complete the program and now a global late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is set to begin next month, initially focusing on Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa.
The company has also been given the green light by the Chinese regulators to proceed with two heterologous prime-boost studies evaluating the efficacy of INO-4800 together with Sinovac's inactivated C19 vaccine CoronaVac. The study is being sponsored by Advaccine, expanding on the partnership announced in June, with the trials expected to kick off sometime in 2H21.
Given that vaccination rates in the U.S. have somewhat plateaued, while other regions still have limited access to vaccines, Maxim’s Jason McCarthy believes these two factors are “significantly contributing to the increasing concern for SARS-CoV-2 variants.”
“If vaccination rates continue to stagnate, it is possible that a variant could emerge that could render our current vaccine arsenal substantially less effective,” said the 5-star analyst. “Data, albeit early-stage, suggests that INO-4800 may have potential against a range of SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Delta variant. At its current cash position, Inovio should have enough runway to continue driving development of its INO-4800 asset through potential inflection points.”
As such, McCarthy rates Inovio stock a Buy and has a $20 price target for the shares. The implication for investors? Upside of a hefty 134%. (To watch McCarthy’s track record, click here)
McCarthy, however, is Wall Street’s most prominent INO bull, and by a long stretch. Elsewhere, the stock has another Buy rating and with 3 additional Holds, is rated by the analyst consensus a Moderate Buy. Helped by McCarthy’s bullish forecast, the average price target comes in at $12, suggesting one-year gains of 40%. (See Inovio stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.