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Inovio Shares Slump as Defense Department Ceases Vaccine Funding

The government says it will halt funding for Inovio’s Phase 3 trial for a COVID vaccine. The drugmaker's shares slid.
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Inovio Pharmaceuticals  (INO) - Get Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. Report shares plummeted on Friday after the government said it would cease funding the drugmaker's Phase 3 trial for a COVID vaccine.

The Defense Department made the decision because ample quantities of other vaccines are already available, it said.

Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report/BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna Inc. Report and Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report already have provided vaccines. And AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get AstraZeneca PLC Report has a vaccine that is being used overseas.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals recently traded at $6.83, down more than 25%. 

The company said it now plans a “predominantly ex-U.S. Phase 3 trial for its vaccine candidate.” The Department of Defense will fund the completion of Phase 2 trials.

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The defense agency told Inovio that the "decision results from the changing environment of COVID-19 with the rapid deployment of vaccines. 

"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 U.S. met President Joe Biden’s target of 200 million vaccinations during his first 100 days in office.

Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals had climbed last week after it reported the results of a study showing that its vaccine candidate was capable of producing neutralizing antibodies and T-cell responses against the U.K., South African and Brazilian variant strains.

Last month, Inovio Pharmaceuticals reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results. The company said its fourth-quarter loss narrowed to 14 cents a share from 38 cents a share a year earlier. Revenue came in at $5.6 million vs. $300,000 in the year-earlier period.