Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy's "Historic" Study of Vaccines and Autism in Monkeys? Ah ... Never Mind.

Last Updated Feb 16, 2010 12:31 PM EST

Remember that "crucial" study of 20 monkeys that actors Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy claimed would have "potentially devastating consequences for vaccine makers and public health officials" by linking vaccines to autism? It has just been withdrawn from Neurotoxicology, the journal the authors were hoping to publish it in. No specific reason was given beyond this standard statement:
Reasons for withdrawal may be due to a decision by the author and/or editor ...
The proposed study, by Andrew Wakefield, looked at reflex responses in newborn monkeys, and compared those with hepatitis B vaccines to those without. The withdrawal follows The Lancet's retraction of Wakefield's 1998 paper which wrongly concluded that there was a link between vaccines and autism in children. Wakefield's work has been the bedrock of a generation of mistaken beliefs that vaccines and autism are somehow linked.

Carrey and McCarthy have been staunch defenders of Wakefield, even though he has been the subject of misconduct hearings in Britain. They concluded on their "Generation Rescue" web site that his monkey study was a blockbuster even before it was done:

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is being discredited to prevent an historic study from being published that for the first time looks at vaccinated versus unvaccinated primates and compares health outcomes, with potentially devastating consequences for vaccine makers and public health officials.
... There is no question that the publication of the monkey study will lend substantial credibility to the theory that over-vaccination of young children is leading to neurological damage, including autism.
Carrey and McCarthy have not yet updated their site with a statement on the retraction. Even if the study had been published it would not have added substantially to the vaccines/autism debate. It involved only 20 monkeys, with only seven primates in the placebo arm. Such tiny studies are not statistically powerful enough to be convincing.

You can read preliminary results from the study here. Meanwhile, this web site, the "Jenny McCarthy Body Count," gives an estimated number of deaths that could have been prevented had the victims been vaccinated.