Inovio Advances COVID-19 Vaccine to Phase 1 Testing; Analyst Reiterates ‘Buy’

Amid the ongoing public health crisis, Wall Street is eagerly awaiting any piece of good news. Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) just came through.

On Monday, the vaccine maker, which is up 150% year-to-date, announced that the Investigational New Drug (IND) application for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, INO-4800, had been accepted by the FDA. Additionally, management revealed that the first patient in the Phase 1 trial had been dosed with the DNA vaccine candidate.

Commenting on the development, H.C. Wainwright analyst Raghuram Selvaraju said, “We note that this constitutes a validating milestone for Inovio’s DNA medicine platform—i.e., to rapidly develop and advance a vaccine into a Phase 1 trial in just ten weeks.” With initial immune responses and safety data expected to be published by late summer 2020, the analyst sees significant potential based on the immune response results witnessed across several animal models.

Not to mention a DNA-based approach offers several advantages. The company’s DNA therapies don’t need cold chain logistics and can be stored at room temperature for one year or at 37°C for one week. On top of this, its innovative injection device is both battery-operated and highly portable. This prompted Selvaraju to conclude that INO’s COVID-19 vaccine could be easy to transport and use all over the world.

It should also be noted that in the Phase 1 study of its MERS-CoV vaccine, INO-4700, the candidate generated high levels of antibody responses in about 95% of patients and triggered broad-based T cell responses in almost 90% of patients, with the antibody response maintained for 60 weeks after dosing.

Selvaraju added, “T cell responses observed in convalescent patients suggest that the vaccine is able to protect against reinfection with the MERS virus. INO-4700 was well-tolerated with no vaccine-associated serious adverse events.”

Based on all of the above, Selvaraju stayed with the bulls. Along with a Buy rating, he left the $13 price target as is. Should this target be met, a twelve-month gain of 57% could be in store. (To watch Selvaraju’s track record, click here)

Turning now to the rest of the Street, the bulls have it but not by much. With 3 Buys and 2 Holds assigned in the last three months, the word on the Street is that INO is a Moderate Buy. In addition, the $10.25 average price target is less aggressive than Selvaraju’s forecast. However, it still implies that shares could surge 24% in the next twelve months. (See Inovio stock analysis on TipRanks)


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