Inovio Gets Grant to Help Expand Covid-19 Vaccine Manufacturing

Inovio hopes to produce a million does of its proposed Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020 with help from a manufacturing grant.
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News of a major grant to expand manufacturing of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate failed to provide a boost Thursday to shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals  (INO) - Get Report.

Inovio's stock price fell 6.33% to $12.87 even after the biopharma announced a $1.3 million grant from the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI.

The grant, which brings CEPI's support of Inovia and its Covid-19 research to $17.2 million, will be used by the company to expand manufacturing of its proposed coronavirus vaccine at its New Plymouth, Pa.-based plant.

Inovio's DNA-based Covid-19 vaccine, INO-4800, is currently in Phase 1 clinical testing, with the biopharma hoping to shift into Phase 2/3 efficacy trials over the summer.

With the help of German contract manufacturer Richter-Helm BioLogics, Inovio plans to produce a million doses of INO-4800 by the end of 2020, the company said in a press statement.

Inovio has a pre-existing relationship with Richter-Helm, which is already producing for Inovio a DNA-based vaccine candidate for another, unrelated disease.

"Having a trusted and proven partner ... is critical as we scale up our INO-4800 production," said Robert Juba, Inovio's vice president of biological manufacturing and clinical supply management, in a press statement.

"Richter-Helm BioLogics will transfer and rapidly scale up the current (400 L Scale) production process for INO-4800 DNA plasmid," Juba added.

On Tuesday, Inovio announced its Phase 1 trial of its Covid-19 vaccine was fully enrolled, with 40 health volunteers having received doses of INO-4800 and with initial immune response data and safety results due out in late June.