Analyst Says Sell Inovio On 'Unimpressive' COVID Vaccine Data

Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) are under pressure on Wednesday after Roth Capital analyst Jonathan Aschoff downgraded the stock to Sell after the company released "very limited" preliminary Phase 1 results from its trial with SARS-CoV-2 vaccine INO-4800. Despite its inclusion in the White House's Operation Warp Speed initiative, the analyst is "unimpressed that further preclinical work is required, rather than proceeding straight to later-stage trials."

INO-4800 INTERIM DATA: Inovio announced what the company called “positive” interim clinical data of INO-4800, its vaccine candidate against novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, from the first two Phase 1 clinical trial cohorts. In addition, Inovio said that its INO-4800 has been selected to participate in a non-human primate, or NHP, challenge study as part of the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed, a new national program aiming to provide substantial quantities of safe, effective vaccine for Americans by January 2021. Inovio has also expanded its Phase 1 trial to add older participants in additional cohorts and plans to initiate a Phase 2/3 efficacy trial this summer upon regulatory concurrence.

COVID VACCINE DATA 'UNIMPRESSIVE': Roth Capital analyst Jonathan Aschoff downgraded Inovio Pharmaceuticals to Sell from Neutral with a price target of $11 after the company released what he called "very limited" preliminary Phase 1 results from its trial with SARS-CoV-2 vaccine INO-4800. The analyst told investors that he is "not encouraged by the complete absence of immune response details" and sees the denial of Inovio's injunction forcing suppliers to share needed production technology.

Aschoff added that despite its inclusion in the White House's Operation Warp Speed program, he is "unimpressed that further preclinical work is required, rather than proceeding straight to later-stage trials." Given the abundance of intense competition that is "far better" capitalized than Inovio, the analyst believes INO-4800 will ultimately fall out of the running.

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