SafeMinds: why won’t you tell your membership about the vaccine safety study you funded? Perhaps because it says vaccines are safe?

28 Aug

Earlier this year a paper was published on vaccine safety: Examination of the Safety of Pediatric Vaccine Schedules in a Non-Human Primate Model: Assessments of Neurodevelopment, Learning, and Social Behavior. This was a followup study to earlier pilot studies that got a lot of attention in the “vaccines-cause-autism” groups (Delayed acquisition of neonatal reflexes in newborn primates receiving a thimerosal-containing hepatitis B vaccine: influence of gestational age and birth weight and Influence of pediatric vaccines on amygdala growth and opioid ligand binding in rhesus macaque infants: a pilot study.)

It is worth noting that the pilot studies didn’t link vaccines to autism. They did make claims that some early reflexes were delayed in the monkeys given thimerosal containing vaccines. If you see someone talking about “root” or “snout” or “suck” reflexes in a vaccine discussion, they are referring to the studies above. These were pilot studies–small preliminary studies to see if it is worth launching a larger study. As such the results should have been taken with caution. But caution is not what groups like SafeMinds (or any of the groups that promote the failed vaccine-autism link) are known for. Inflating any scrap of evidence that can support their political point of view, that’s what they are known for.

SafeMinds made a big deal out of the early studies. Mark Blaxill (then of SafeMinds) called the study a “blockbuster” in a four thousand word analysis. That’s a lot of space to devote considering the full study was eight thousand words. And, as noted already, preliminary. But politics is politics.

Now, an intellectually honest person, or group, would watch for the followup study and report on it no matter the result. Because, let’s face it, if you are going to spend 4000 words overstating the importance of a study, scaring people and instilling them with guilt and pain over their child’s disability, you have a responsibility to do a follow up.

If you are intellectually honest.

So, as noted above, the follow up study was published. It was published in April. Four months ago. And I don’t see anything from Mr. Blaxill on the Age of Autism blog (where he posted his “blockbuster” article) or at the SafeMinds website on the followup study. SafeMinds has their own blog, and if you search it for, say “snout”, you get this article (Ground-Breaking Monkey Study: Mercury-Containing Hepatitis B Vaccine Causes Brain Damage) on the pilot study, calling it “groundbreaking” and claiming that it demonstrates that the thimerosal containing HepB vaccine causes brain damage.

Very strong words. Words which, if overblown, are very damaging. Imagine going through life as a parent thinking that you agreed to a vaccine and that caused brain damage to your child. Now imagine that the evidence you used to draw that conclusion was (a) not strong to begin with and (b) now refuted.

Wouldn’t you want to know the truth? Wouldn’t you expect the people and the organizations that convinced you of this falshood to seek you out and correct their mistake?

And this is why people don’t hold Mr. Blaxill or SafeMinds in high regard. They are quick to scare but don’t have the courage to admit they were wrong. Courage isn’t standing up and saying unpopular truths. Courage is standing up and admitting that your “unpopular truth” was, in fact, not the truth at all.

Now, why pick on SafeMinds in specific here? A lot of people and groups jumped on the pilot study and spread a lot of fear. Check out the footnotes of the study.

This work was supported by the Ted Lindsay Foundation, SafeMinds, National Autism Association, the Vernick family, and the Johnson family

SafeMinds helped fund the new study. The one they are ignoring. They were likely aware of the results before they were published. But no word.

I expect more from decent advocacy organizations. But I am not surprised with SafeMinds, nor Mark Blaxill.

Yes, the National Autism Association did too and they need to step up as well (a point I hope to make in a later article).

How about the Johnson Family? Well, the Johnson Center stepped up and put out a press release New Research Finds No Evidence That Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines Affect Neurodevelopment and Behavior in Infant Primates. (all SafeMinds, the Age of Autism and the National Autism Association needs to do as a start is publish the press release).

Here’s the last sentence of the press release, quoting the lead researcher: “Despite these limitations, the data in this primate study overwhelmingly provides support for the safety of pediatric vaccines”

It would take a lot of courage for SafeMinds and Mark Blaxill to publicize such a statement. More than they have.

By Matt Carey

13 Responses to “SafeMinds: why won’t you tell your membership about the vaccine safety study you funded? Perhaps because it says vaccines are safe?”

  1. brian August 28, 2015 at 20:38 #

    The authors of this recent SafeMinds-funded, five-year study clearly acknowledge that the preliminary results that Blaxill and SafeMinds touted were incorrect.

    These data are in contrast to our previous pilot study in which a delay in the acquisition of the root, suck, and snout survival reflexes were reported for primate infants following exposure to the birth dose of the thimerosal-containing Hep B vaccine (Hewitson et al. 2010a). This discrepancy is most likely due to the larger number of animals in the present study providing more accurate estimates. Furthermore, in the present study, reflexes were examined from birth to 21 days of age, during which some animals received multiple TCVs (not just a single Hep B vaccine, as was used in the previous study), and yet no detrimental effects on the acquisition of survival reflexes were reported for these animals.

    It’s unfortunate that Blaxill and Safeminds are not interested in the truth.

  2. Julian Frost August 29, 2015 at 16:59 #

    The hilarious thing is, this isn’t the first time that an antivaxx organisation performed a study, utterly convinced it would return proof of their beliefs, only for it to refute them. I think LBRB wrote about a study that was pre-2010.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) August 29, 2015 at 18:02 #

      Yeah, we’ve written about this a number of times.

      The first time the studies from this effort were presented was at IMFAR. There was a bit of a problem in the PI not declaring a COI (petitioner to the vaccine court). They published later and one paper was retracted

      Only to appear again (without Wakefield’s name)

      They had a paper where they claimed that they could see brain differences via MRI in the vaccinated monkeys. It was not good and, yes, I discussed it here. A long history of just not-excellent work. Which is why I give the authors a lot of credit for going ahead with not only a paper but with the press release. A lot of credit.

      SafeMinds? Blaxill? Not so much.

  3. Science Mom August 29, 2015 at 18:22 #

    Gee I wonder if Brian Hooker will be using the Hewitson et al. study for his court case? Not to worry, the DoJ probably will. It really does say a lot when negative studies (and they are poorly done) will be trumpeted far and wide but when their own study is yet another example of the overall safety of vaccines, not a word. Even worse, none of their supporters will even point it out or ask why.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) August 29, 2015 at 20:18 #

      Of course he will ignore the new paper. And leave the old one’s in his argument. Then complain that the Special Master didn’t accept them.

      And will what’s-her-name take the preliminary Hewitson papers off her list? No way.

  4. AndersG August 31, 2015 at 08:46 #

    Thanks for alerting me to this. I have written a brief summary för a vaccinations group I am amember of.

  5. Roger Kulp August 31, 2015 at 23:55 #

    I’ve lost count.I thought this was at least the third study about vaccines SafeMinds has funded.

    Could one reason SafeMinds refuses to issue a press release be that their financial well being,indeed their very existence,relies on perpetuating the myth that vaccines cause autism?That they see any,and all studies that disprove this idea a direct threat to their bottom line?

    Do Sallie Bernard and Lyn Redwood draw a salary?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) September 1, 2015 at 00:29 #

      They don’t draw salaries

      Click to access SafeMinds-2013-990.pdf

      Who knows why they do what they do what they do. The most simple explanation is that they are such strong believers that they feel they would be misleading their readers by showing them this research. Even though they funded it. Even though they talked up the research team before.

  6. autismsciencefoundation September 29, 2015 at 18:02 #

    Here is another study from a very high impact journal (PNAS) with neuropathology results from these animals. No association.

    • Heather Vee September 30, 2015 at 15:12 #

      I saw this today. I wonder if SafeMinds will also ignore these results?

      • brian September 30, 2015 at 16:57 #

        The SafeMinds site doesn’t mention the two recent SafeMinds-supported studies that directly contradict Hewitson’s dodgy pilot study, but includes three articles on that now-refuted work.

        The Johnson Center for Child Health and Development (formerly Thoughtful House) does include discussion of these recent articles.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) September 30, 2015 at 21:30 #

        I give Thoughtful House/Johnson Center and Hewitson a lot of credit for this.

        SafeMinds, Mark Blaxill, AoA, Dan Olmsted, National Autism Association…not so much.


  1. Why You Need A Root Canal - September 2, 2015

    […] SafeMinds: why won’t you tell your membership about the vaccine safety study you funded? Perhaps b… – If you see someone talking about “root” or “snout” or “suck” reflexes in a … you of this falshood to seek you out and correct their mistake? And this is why people don’t hold Mr. Blaxill or SafeMinds in high regard. They are quick to … […]

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