Inovio Among Pharma Firms Prepping to Hit Go on Coronavirus Vaccine

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, one of a handful of biopharma companies racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, is preparing to hit the go button if its vaccine works.
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Inovio Pharmaceuticals  (INO) - Get Report, one of a handful of biopharmaceutical companies racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, is in talks with larger drugmakers so it can deliver tens of millions of doses if its drug is successful and approved by regulators.

Inovio CEO J. Joseph Kim told Bloomberg that his company is aiming to have at least 1 million doses of its vaccine available by the end of the year, and then rely on bigger manufacturers to expand to as many as 50 million.

“We’re running as fast as we can,” he told Bloomberg, adding that a final vaccine depends on clearing a number of hurdles, including studies in humans that are due to start by late spring or early summer. 

Inovio, Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report, Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Report, Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report and Sanofi  (SNY) - Get Report are among companies working on developing a successful coronavirus vaccine that can stop the rapidly spreading disease in its tracks. The urgency is rising as infections climb around the world.

Inovio, which is backed by up to $9 million in funds from the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is among those trying to accelerate the timeline, Bloomberg said. However, Inovio wouldn’t be able to produce a vaccine in large quantities on its own.

Moderna earlier this week said it has shipped a first batch of a potential vaccine to the U.S. government. A trial in humans could start in less than two months, though it may take a year and a half for a vaccine to reach the public, Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a briefing earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization continues to recommend Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesvir as a partial remedy to the coronavirus, though the drug, which was developed to treat the Ebola disease, has not been proven to cure Covid-19.

Shares of Inovio were up 4.3% at $4.54 in Friday trading. Shares of Gilead were down 7.95% at $66.88.