Inovio Presents Positive Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Data; Top Analyst Says Hold

Inovio Pharmaceuticals reported that Phase 1 clinical trial data evaluating its INO-4800, showed that the COVID-19 vaccine candidate was immunogenic in 100% of the participants and induced neutralizing antibody responses. Shares rose 1.9% on Thursday.

In addition, INO-4800 demonstrated favorable safety and tolerability, with no serious adverse events reported, Inovio (INO) said. The vaccine candidate has a best-in-class thermostability, including a five-year projected shelf life at normal refrigeration temperature and requires no frozen transport or storage requirements.

“We are very pleased to share peer-reviewed Phase 1 clinical data for INO-4800 published in The Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine, and are grateful for the support of all participants and investigator staff involved in the clinical trial,” said Inovio CEO Dr. J. Joseph Kim.

The Phase 1 clinical data results for Inovio’s COVID-19 DNA vaccine candidate were based on the first cohort of 40 participants in the US aged between 18 to 50. The participants received 1 mg and 2 mg vaccine doses. Each participant was given two doses of INO-4800 four weeks apart. Each dose was administered by intradermal injection using Inovio’s proprietary smart device Cellectra. The 1 mg and 2 mg dose group both demonstrated seroconversion in 95% of the participants, respectively, with 78% showing neutralizing antibodies in the 1 mg dose group and 84% demonstrating neutralizing antibodies in the 2 mg dose group.    

Inovio is currently conducting the Phase 2 segment of its planned Phase 2/3 clinical trial for INO-4800. The trial, which is randomized, blinded, and placebo-controlled, will assess the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

As Inovio shares have already spiked 211% so far this year, analysts are now sidelined on the stock with a Hold consensus. Looking ahead, the average analyst price target of $13.29 indicates a more moderate 29% upside potential lies ahead over the coming 12 months.

Commenting on the full Phase 1 data, Piper Sandler analyst Christopher Raymond maintained a Hold rating on the stock with an $8 price target.
 
Raymond said that he continues to view the program with “skepticism” and views the COVID-19 vaccine candidate as an “also-ran” in light of the two currently authorized vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and potentially others vaccines pulling ahead in the race to control the coronavirus in coming months.

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