The Pentagon awarded the grant to Inovio Pharmaceuticals in July 2020 to aid in the development of its CELLECTRA 3PSP delivery device, an injection gun that creates an electrical pulse essential to the delivery of its DNA COVID-19 vaccine, called INO-4800.
Unlike the mRNA injection, Inovio's DNA shot requires a device that administers an electric charge to the injection site to enable its proprietary DNA vaccine plasmids to more efficiently invade the cells, claiming the procedure yields no "observed" side effects or toxicity.
"Hopes remain high for another kind of nucleic-acid vaccine, one that makes use of DNA rather than mRNA. DNA-based vaccines have most of the advantages of mRNA vaccines, yet they produce no significant side effects—and, crucially, they don't need to be refrigerated. These attributes could make these vaccines a boon to rural and low-resource regions," IEEE Spectrum magazine reported in May.