Remember that HIV vaccine story we were so excited about? It turns out that it may not be so promising after all. A Wall Street Journal article over the weekend determined that unreleased analysis of the data suggested the trial might have been a statistical fluke:
The second analysis, which is considered a vital component of any vaccine study, shows the results weren’t statistically significant, these scientists said. In other words, it indicates that the results could have been due to chance and that the vaccine may not be effective.
The additional data were available to the researchers on Sept. 24 when they announced the trial results, but they chose not to disclose them, said Jerome Kim, a scientist with the U.S. Army who was involved in the study. News of the second analysis was first reported on the Web site of Science magazine, but the story didn’t provide specific data. Full details of the trial are to be aired at an AIDS meeting in Paris that starts Oct. 19.
A group of 22 scientists who were critical of the study when it began in 2004 wrote that they feared that “one price for repetitive failure could be crucial erosion by the public and politicians in our capability of developing an effective AIDS vaccine collectively.” The WSJ article suggests the Army, the Thai government and the U.S. National Institutes of Health rushed to put a positive spin on the study. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is calling for an independent review.