Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. plunged 29.7% toward a 13-month low, enough to pace all premarket decliners Friday, after the company said the U.S. government has cut off funding for the Phase 3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate because vaccines are already broadly available. The company said it will continue with its work toward a Phase 3 trial, but is now planning a “predominantly ex-U.S.” trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, INO-4800. The U.S. government will continue to fund the completion of the Phase 2 trial of INO-4800. The company said it will report results of the Phase 2 trial in the second quarter. The Department of Defense Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO) informed Inovio on its decision to discontinue Phase 3 funding: “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.” With more than 215 million COVID-19 vaccines already administered, the U.S. has achieved President Biden’s goal of 200 million jabs within his first 100 days in office ahead of schedule. The stock, which is on track to open at the lowest price seen during regular-session hours since March 2020, has edged up 3.2% year to date through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has gained 10.1%.
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