Millennium Among Hedge Funds to Bet on Virus Vaccine Hunters

Millennium Management LLC was among hedge funds to pile millions into drug developers chasing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

The money manager snatched up about 1.7 million shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. and more than 600,000 shares of Moderna Inc. in the first quarter, according to a regulatory filing this week. The Inovio stake, worth about $23 million, makes the hedge fund the biotech’s eighth-largest holder, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Other investors that dipped their toes in Inovio or added to existing stakes were Balyasny Asset Management LP, Renaissance Technologies LLC and Bayesian Capital Management LP, while DE Shaw & Co. LP sold out of its more than 400,000 share stake. Viking Global Investors LP, an early investor in Moderna, dumped more than 2.3 million shares in the quarter ending March 31. DE Shaw also sold most of its stake in Moderna.

Millennium also bought a 1.1% stake in Novavax Inc., a third company seeking a vaccine for Covid-19. The drug developer has racked upmillions in funding from government agencies.

Moderna is preparing for mid- and late-stage studies of its vaccine with plans to start the Phase 3 trial in early summer. Inovio, which just behind Moderna, kicked off a vaccine trial in April and aims to start larger studies this summer.

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