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Can Inovio Survive a Last-Place Finish in the Race to a COVID 19 Vaccine?

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TipRanks
·2 min read
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2020 has been some journey for Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO). For this formerly little-known biotech, the narrative has swung from outlandishly exuberant to hopelessly gloomy, all due to the expectations surrounding INO-4800 – the company’s DNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Recently, the pendulum has been swinging back into positive territory.

After hitting a brick wall with the FDA regarding the vaccine’s progress and, therefore, dropping far behind other programs, last month Inovio was finally given the go-ahead to proceed with the Phase 2 portion of INO-4800’s Phase 2/3 (INNOVATE) trial.

And now, at long last, the study’s first patient has been dosed. By the end of the month, the company expects to have the study fully enrolled with 400 participants.

The FDA has yet to approve the Phase 3 segment and will only sign off on it once Inovio answers the FDA’s questions regarding the Cellectra 2000 device, which is used to administer the vaccine. Inovio plans to address this issue during the Phase 2 trial.

The good news follows another positive development.

The company just recently inked a deal with Kaneka Eurogentec to assist in the manufacturing of INO-4800.

Kaneka joins an international consortium including Thermo Fisher Scientific, Richter-Helm BioLogics and Ology Biosciences which targets the production of hundreds of millions of doses of INO-4800 for global distribution.

H.C. Wainwright analyst Ram Selvaraju reminds investors of INO-4800’s unique properties, when compared to other Covid-19 vaccines.

“INO-4800 has shown excellent thermostability, with a shelf life of over 30 days at 37°C, over a year at 25°C and over five years when refrigerated. Therefore, INO-4800 does not need cold-chain transportation and storage, which should facilitate immunization on a global scale,” the 5-star analyst noted.

While Selvaraju believes “INO-4800 may have the most user-friendly profile from a storage and transportation perspective,” he awaits further clarity from the INNOVATE trial before re-evaluating his position on the company.

For now, Selvaraju sticks to a Neutral (i.e. Hold) rating and has no fixed price target in mind. (To watch Ellis’s track record, click here)

Overall, the rest of the Street has reached the same conclusion. The analyst consensus rate INO a Hold, based on 2 Buys, 5 Holds and 1 Sell. Given the $14.17 average price target, the forecast is for 24% upside over the next 12 months. (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.