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AIDS Vaccine

“Hardly ever believe what you read” is a maxim that will stand you in good stead. Googling “aids vaccine Thailand” will get 248,000 hits, most of which are misleading. In essence, the URLs say that for the first time an effective vaccine against AIDS has been manufactured. But that was last month. Reality has now set in.

The following chart found in the Wall Street Journal of October 9, 2009 paints a different picture. “New infections occurred in 51 of the 8,197 people who got the vaccine, compared with 74 of the 8,198 volunteers who got placebo shots.” Note that the “125” infections represent “51 + 74.”


http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/forwiki/HiV.gif

The announcement on September 24, 2009 indicated that the p-value is 3.9%. A Minitab run shows that, in fact, the p-value is higher (i.e., worse) as indicated by the Fisher exact test. However, the .048 is still under the mystical .05:

Test and CI for Two Proportions

Sample X N Sample p 1 51 8197 0.006222 2 74 8198 0.009027


Difference = p (1) - p (2) Estimate for difference: -0.00280480 95% CI for difference: (-0.00546736, -0.000142249) Test for difference = 0 (vs not = 0): Z = -2.06 P-Value = 0.039

Fisher's exact test: P-Value = 0.048

“Efficacy” of 31.2% seems to be determined from (74 - 51)/ 74 = .310