What happened

Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) were up by 21.4% as of 3:12 p.m. EDT on Friday. The market is likely responding to a Thursday evening CNBC interview of the company's CEO, Dr. Joseph Kim.

So what

Inovio recently kicked off a phase 1 clinical trial to test the safety of its investigational COVID-19 vaccine, INO-4800. The trial -- which will involve up to 40 healthy adult volunteers -- will also test the vaccine's ability to trigger an immune response in the body. During the CNBC interview with Jim Cramer, Kim said the company plans to finish enrolling volunteers for the trial before the end of the month.

Kim also said that getting the company's investigational COVID-19 vaccine on the market within 12 to 18 months was not out of the question. In his own words: "It's possible, especially if you have a platform that's shown to be safe and if you have tested similar approaches before against other pathogens, like we have."

Woman on the phone wearing a face mask.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Inovio has made staggering gains since the beginning of the year due to its efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Year to date, the company's shares are up by 346.1%, while the S&P 500 is down by 12.6%. Inovio's shares have soared by almost 80% over the past five days alone. However, it seems impossible that Inovio will manage to keep up this frenetic pace. Many other companies are looking to develop vaccines for COVID-19, and despite Inovio being one of the few that have already started clinical trials, the company could run into regulatory hurdles, or its vaccine could fail to prove effective in clinical trials. In short, long-term investors would do well to stay away from this biotech stock.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.