Inovio Pharmaceuticals has received $6.9m in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to collaborate with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and the Korea National Institute of Health (KNIH) for a Covid-19 vaccine trial.

The alliance is for a Phase I/II trial of Inovio’s vaccine candidate, INO-4800, in South Korea. IVI will perform the trial in parallel with Inovio’s Phase I trial conducted in the US.

The US trial is designed for 40 healthy adults and will later expand to older adults.

IVI director general Dr Jerome Kim said: “The rapid global response to developing vaccine candidates has been a profound demonstration of governments, industry, and the scientific community coming together to confront a common crisis, and we’re looking forward to accelerating one of those candidates through clinical testing.

“IVI has achieved promising trial results with Inovio’s DNA vaccine platform in the past, and we’re pleased to partner again to test the safety and immunogenicity of an urgently needed Covid-19 vaccine.”

The partnership comes after the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced on 13 April that the regulator will use a fast-track approval process for Covid-19 vaccine and treatment trials.

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Plumbline Life Sciences in South Korea is also partnering on Inovio’s vaccine project.

Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and the KNIH have agreed to support IVI in its testing efforts.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals president and CEO Dr Joseph Kim said: “Developing a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine is a global imperative, and we’re pleased to partner with IVI and KNIH to test INO-4800 in South Korea.

“Our DNA vaccine platform was one of the first technologies to receive support from CEPI to accelerate a Covid-19 vaccine, and IVI conducting safety and efficacy trials in South Korea is a crucial step forward in evaluating this vaccine.”

Inovio’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate is based on its DNA vaccine platform, which was previously used to create MERS vaccine, INO-4700.