The health minister of Trinidad and Tobago denounced Nicki Minaj’s claim that an acquaintance on the Caribbean island suffered swollen testicles and is now impotent after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, saying officials squandered precious time trying to verify the rap star’s false claim.
The Trinidad-born Minaj made headlines earlier this week when she noted in a tweet to her more than 22.6 million followers that the Met Gala required attendees to be vaccinated, and that she wouldn’t get the shot until “I feel I’ve done enough research.” She later issued a tweet sharing an unverified story about a cousin’s friend in Trinidad. Minaj asserted the unidentified individual “became impotent” and “his testicles became swollen” after receiving the shot.
During a press conference Wednesday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh apologized for the delay in responding to Minaj’s claim, noting his agency had to “check and makes sure that what she was claiming was either true or false.”
“As far as we know, at this point in time, there has been no such reported either side effect or adverse effect,” Deyalsingh said.
He also expressed frustration for wasting “so much time running down this false claim,” trying to find out if there had been any cases of swollen testicles or impotency from the vaccine on the island or elsewhere.
“And what was sad about this is it wasted our time yesterday, trying to track this down because we take all these claims seriously, whether it’s on social media or main stream media,” Deyalsingh said. “As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad or anywhere. None that we know of anywhere else in the world.”
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, also dismissed the claim as misinformation during an interview Tuesday on CNN.
“There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen,” he said.
The White House offered Wednesday to connect Minaj with one of the Biden administration’s doctors to address her questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Throughout the year, the White House has struggled to counteract resistance to getting a shot, particularly among younger and more Republican demographics. The administration has pointed in particular to false or misleading information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines as a driver of that hesitance. It has referenced a study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit that studies extremism, that linked a dozen accounts to spreading the majority of vaccine disinformation on Facebook.
The administration has sought out new ways to refute disinformation and reach young vaccine skeptics, earlier this year inviting teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo to the White House to show her support for the shot.
Good for Olivia Rodrigo—she’s happy, healthy and is at the White House spreading an important message! The 18-year-old singer was at the nation’s capital on Wednesday to meet with President Joe Biden and his chief Covid-19 medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and to record videos to encourage young people to get vaccinated.