As both the public’s and lawmakers’ concerns over the spread of COVID-19 continue to mount, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced it will accelerate its set timeline for the development of a DNA vaccine targeting the virus.
The vaccine has been underway since January when Chinese researchers first shared the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus. Inovio stated its scientists designed the INO-4800 vaccine just three hours after receiving that sequence using its DNA medicines platform technology. Preclinical testing began that same month, and now, the company intends to begin human trials on 30 volunteers in April, with the results to be published sometime in fall.
“Inovio is the leader in coronavirus vaccine development and the only company with a Phase 2 vaccine for a related coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS),” Inovio President and CEO J. Joseph Kim said. “We plan to begin human clinical trials in the U.S. in April and soon thereafter in China and South Korea, where the outbreak is impacting the most people. We plan on delivering one million doses by year end with existing resources and capacity. However, we will need additional resources to scale up to make enough doses to help protect Americans from COVID-19 as well as to lead global efforts to curtail this virus.”
COVID-19 is a respiratory infection the World Health Organization had deemed a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As of this month, the organization dubbed it the highest level of potential threat globally. To date, more than 93,000 people have been infected by the disease and more than 3,200 people killed by it. While most of the deaths and infections have taken place in China, new virus hot spots have erupted around the world.