The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are approximately 70 potential vaccines for COVID-19 currently being developed across the globe. Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ (INO) INO-4800 is one of only 3 to have initiated clinical trials. Investors have responded favorably, sending the stock up by a massive 200% since the turn of the year.
The surge has continued over the last week, as Inovio announced it has received additional funds of $6.9 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The grant is for a collaboration with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and the Korea National Institute of Health (KNIH) on a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the company’s COVID-19 DNA vaccine candidate.
IVI, in collaboration with GeneOne Life Science, has already evaluated another Inovio vaccine, its MERS vaccine, INO-4700. A Phase 1 trial of INO-4700 showed it induced high levels of antibody responses in approximately 95% of subjects, raising hopes for similarly positive results for INO-4800.
The trial will take place in South Korea and will run in parallel to Inovio’s Phase 1 trial of INO-4800, which began on April 6 in the US, and is still in progress. This is the second time CEPI has funded Inovio’s development of a COVID-19 vaccine, following a $9 million grant in February.
Referring to the on-going US trial, H.C. Wainwright’s Ram Selvaraju said, “We note this is a substantial milestone for Inovio’s DNA medicine platform, demonstrating the ability to rapidly develop and advance a vaccine into a Phase 1 trial in just 10 weeks… With an average global mortality rate of 6.7%, we believe people around the world are in dire need of an effective vaccine. We believe vaccines constitute the long-term solution that may enable people to return to normal life across the globe.”
The analyst reiterates a Buy rating on Inovio shares along with a $13 price target, which implies about 10% upside from current levels. (To watch Selvaraju’s track record, click here)
Overall, Inovio’s analyst consensus rating is a Moderate Buy, with 4 analysts giving it the thumbs up vs. 2 analysts staying sidelined. The 12-month average price target stands at $10.80, which would have indicated much upside before the share price’s incredible rally, but now indicates a 10% downside. This is partly due to the fact analysts have yet to update their price target following the run-up. In the coming months, though, it remains to be seen, whether Inovio can hold on to the recent massive gains. (See Inovio stock analysis on TipRanks)
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