You don’t go more than 40 years in biotech without ever getting a product to market unless you can learn the art of writing a promotional press release. And Inovio captures the prize in baiting the hook.
Tuesday morning Inovio, which has been struggling to get its Covid-19 vaccine lined up for mass manufacturing, put out a release that touched on virtually every hot button in pandemic PR.
There was, first and foremost, an interim snapshot of efficacy from their Phase I program for INO-4800.
Analyses to date have shown that 94% (34 out of 36 total trial participants) demonstrated overall immunological response rates based on preliminary data assessing humoral (binding and neutralizing) and T cell immune responses.
Moderna was criticized for its decision to sketch initial antibody responses — which it said were at or above the level needed to guard against the pandemic at 2 doses over various times. But it provided a treasure of information compared to Inovio’s barebones explanation.
Also dangling bait to day traders:
A Phase II/III study should be set to go this summer, if regulators sign off. Plus, Operation Warp Speed — the president’s initiative at achieving a vaccine rollout, around the election — is including 4800 in a non-human primate study. And then there was the trusty mouse study, in which their vaccine prevented viral replication in rodent lungs after the tiny creatures were challenged with SARS-CoV-2.
Usually, that sort of release delivers a powerful — if temporary — surge in the share price. But this morning, Wall Street proved skeptical.
Inovio’s stock price slid 11% as some experienced observers called them out.
Communicating in the time of COVID. This Inovio press release is about as good of an example there is where a PR might sound awesome to the common person (Robinhood trader) but anyone who knows what they are talking about is like ‘where’s the data?’
— Brad Loncar (@bradloncar) June 30, 2020
Inovio’s attempt to break out of the pack seemed to largely backfire this morning. When you’re in a race involving AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, a host of Chinese companies, and many, many more, it seems the usual bait doesn’t work so well.