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Citron Showed 'Lack Of Understanding' Of Science Behind DNA Medicines, Inovio Says

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: INO) on Monday defended its claim of having developed a vaccine for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in three hours.

Benzinga · 03/10/2020 01:56

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: INO) on Monday defended its claim of having developed a vaccine for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in three hours.

What Happened

Citron Research tweeted on Sunday, asking the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to halt the trading of Inovio's stock and investigate the "dangerous claim that they designed a vaccine in [three] hours."

"This has been a serial stock promotion for years," Citron said. "This will trade back to $2. Investors have been warned."

As Inovio's shares tanked by more than 32% in Monday's trading following Citron's comments, the pharma company fired back without naming it directly.

"A third-party report today demonstrated a lack of understanding of the science behind DNA medicines," Inovio said in a statement.

The company said that it developed a DNA vaccine construct named INO-4800 in less than three hours after the coronavirus sequence became publicly available.

The pretrials for the vaccine were conducted in January, and the results are under considerations at Nature Communications journal, Inovio noted. The company expects to move into human trials in April.

Why It Matters

Innovio's shares surged to more than double over the last week as it announced the development of the vaccine even as the overall stock market suffered losses from fears over the continued spread of the coronavirus.

The stock was headed for further gains, opening about 37% higher at $18.85 on Monday, until Citron's comments ended the rally.

Earlier in February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) had sent the first coronavirus vaccine to the National Institute of Health for clinical trials to be conducted in April.

Price Action

Inovio's shares closed 30.23% lower at $9.83 lower on Monday and traded further 1.93% lower at $9.64 in the after-hours session.