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Inovio Surges on Expedited Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine

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Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that it expects to begin human clinical studies on its DNA vaccine INO-4800 in April for addressing the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). Clinical studies in China and South Korea are expected to begin shortly thereafter.

Shares of Inovio soared 69.7% on Tuesday following the news. In fact, the stock has skyrocketed 106.4% in the past year against the industry’s decline of 7.3%. Moreover, the shares were again up 24% in pre-market trading on Wednesday.

Currently, INO-4800 is in preclinical testing, designed to precisely match the DNA sequence of the deadly virus. In January 2020, Inovio received a grant of up to $9 million from CEPI for the pre-clinical and phase I development of INO-4800.

Importantly, by this year-end, Inovio plans to deliver one million doses of INO-4800 for further clinical studies and emergency use to treat the coronavirus-affected people.

In the wake of this rapidly-spreading coronavirus infection in China and across the globe, several large and small pharma/biotech players are making concerted efforts to develop a vaccine or a treatment. Per the latest Bloomberg article, globally, Covid-19 already infected more than 90,000 people and the death toll crossed the 3000-mark. Coronavirus afflicted more than 100 people in the United States, killing eight of them.

The WHO and other global organizations as well as government authorities are actively participating in developing treatments for the Covid-19 and spreading awareness to avoid contracting the contagion.

Notably, the U.S. federal authorities met several pharma/biotech companies this week to discuss the progress of any treatment for the Covid-19. Per a Reuters article, the Trump administration urged companies to collaborate on the accelerated development of a vaccine. Representatives from various companies at the meeting suggested 12-to-18 month timeline for a safe and tested vaccine to be available in the market.

However, antiviral treatments, which are already being developed for other viral infections, are expected to get a faster approval and may lead to earlier availability of the Covid-19 treatment. Currently, AbbVie’s (ABBV - Free Report) HIV drug, Kaletra, is being administered to coronavirus-affected patients in China. Gilead (GILD - Free Report) initiated two phase III studies last month to evaluate its antiviral candidate, remdesivir, as a treatment for the Covid-19. Pipeline candidates of other companies are also in early stages of development.

Earlier this week, Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) announced that it identified certain antiviral compounds, already in development, with potential to treat coronavirus.

Currently, it seems difficult for companies to bring the coronavirus disaster under control. However, we remain optimistic as several companies along with global authorities are working closely to introduce a treatment as early as possible to check this deadly virus.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Price

Zacks Rank

Inovio currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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