The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and Seoul National University (SNU) Hospital have partnered to conduct a Phase I/II clinical trial of Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ Covid-19 vaccine, INO-4800, in South Korea.

This is the first trial of a Covid-19 vaccine approved in Korea. The trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the DNA vaccine candidate in 40 healthy adults aged 19-50 years.

In addition, the trial will enrol 120 participants aged 19-64 years. It is scheduled to begin later this month.

Funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) via Inovio, the study is supported by the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention/Korea National Institute of Health.

IVI director general Dr Jerome Kim said: “We are thrilled to start the clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in collaboration with SNU Hospitals and with support from KCDC/KNIH.

“South Korea is one of the first countries in the world set to test a Covid-19 vaccine, and we are happy to collaborate with South Korean partners to accelerate clinical development of a COVID-19 vaccine through our partnership with Inovio and CEPI.”

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The trial will be performed two months after Inovio commenced a similar study in the US in early April this year.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals president and CEO Dr Joseph Kim said: “As part of Inovio’s global coalition of Covid-19 vaccine collaborators, funders and manufacturers we look forward with enthusiasm to advance our DNA vaccine in partnership with the IVI and Seoul National University Hospital to rapidly begin clinical trials in Korea.

“We will soon have Phase I data from a US trial of INO-4800 and plan to begin Phase II/III trials in mid-summer. We thank IVI and SNU Hospital for their work to speed the Korea trial of INO-4800.”

Previously, IVI and SNU Hospitals partnered to perform Phase I/IIa trials of a MERS vaccine, which was developed by Inovio and South Korea-based GeneOne Life Science.