Inovio considers moving COVID-19 vaccine trial overseas as U.S. ends funding

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a medical syringe and a small bottle labelled "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine
·2 min read

By Reuters Staff

(Reuters) - Inovio Pharmaceuticals said on Friday the U.S. government pulled the funding for a late-stage study testing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate and that it would now pursue conducting the trial largely outside the country.

Inovio said on Friday depending on the results of its mid-stage trial, it would run the late-stage study for its vaccine candidate, INO-4800, with partners such as China's Advaccine and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI).

The U.S. Department of Defense will continue to fund its ongoing mid-stage study, the company said.

"This decision is not a reflection of the awardee or product, rather a fast-moving environment associated with the former Operation Warp Speed on decisions related to future products," the department informed the company.

"With multiple authorized and robustly effective COVID vaccines available, we have long viewed INO's window of opportunity to run a trial as somewhat narrow," Piper Sandler analyst Christopher Raymond said.

The company will now fund the trial either on its own and/or with help from another partner, Raymond said in a client note.

Inovio did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Earlier this month, Inovio received $6.9 million in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to work with the International Vaccine Institute on an early-to-mid-stage trial for INO-4800 in South Korea.

Inovio lagged behind rivals in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September put a portion of the IN0-4800 study on hold, as it sought more information on the device used to inject the vaccine, which is based on DNA plasmids delivered into the skin with a slight electric charge by the company's Cellectra device.

Inovio added that it would continue to test its other vaccine candidate, INO-4802, targeting variants of the coronavirus.

Open https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

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