Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INO) seemed like it could make millionaires out of many average investors — and fast — earlier this year. The clinical-stage biotech company soared 718% from the start of 2020 through its high point in July. Why? Inovio was among the first companies to begin testing a coronavirus vaccine candidate in human trials, and was early to report trial data. As a result, the company found itself among the early leaders of the coronavirus vaccine race.
A lot has happened since then, and it hasn’t all been good news. Inovio’s stock has suffered a 52% decline from its July peak. So is Inovio still a stock that could turn a thousand-dollar investment into a million? Let’s take a closer look.
The beginning wasn’t pretty
Inovio’s troubles actually began after it reported interim phase 1 data from its vaccine candidate’s clinical trials in June. The results weren’t bad. The problem was that investors wanted more detail about neutralizing antibody levels in trial participants. Neutralizing antibodies are important because they do the work of blocking future infection. Therefore, achieving the antibody levels needed to achieve immunity is key in developing an effective vaccine. Inovio first reported that 94% of participants showed an immune response involving binding and neutralizing antibody activity, as well as a T-cell response. Shares slipped by 27% following the news. Investors were disappointed because Inovio didn’t provide more particular data, unlike its competitors. Rival Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), for example, provided neutralizing antibody level information in comparison to those found in recovered coronavirus patients. Moderna was able to make the important distinction that its coronavirus vaccine candidate