Health officials from the U.K. to Trinidad refuted rapper Nicki Minaj’s “false claim” that her cousin’s friend’s testicles swelled after he received a Covid-19 vaccine in her home country of Trinidad.
In an Instagram story posted late Wednesday, Minaj said she was in “Twitter jail.” “They didn’t like what I was saying over there on that block, I guess. My poll was gonna be … Asking questions is OK, I like being f— dumb, Then boom. Can’t tweet,” Minaj wrote, dropping two laughing emojis at the end. CNBC has reached out to Twitter for comment.
Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh, health minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, said Minaj’s tweet late Monday to her more than 22 million followers sent the ministry on a wild goose chase trying to track down the poor man she said became impotent and lost his fiance over the side effects.
“Unfortunately we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” Deyalsingh said. “As far as we know at this point in time, there has been no such reported either side effect or adverse event. And what was sad about this is that it wasted our time yesterday trying to track down because we take all these claims seriously, whether it’s on social media, or mainstream media.”
Deyalsingh said that there hasn’t been a single reported case of testicular swelling following Covid vaccine shots in Trinidad and that health officials weren’t aware of any cases “anywhere else in the world.”
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, islands in the Caribbean, has fully vaccinated about 35% of its population, and is recording an average of about 200 new Covid cases a day, according to Reuters. Several types of vaccines are used in the country, including those made by China’s Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Pfizer. It is unclear which vaccine Minaj’s cousin’s friend received.
The rapper’s comments made waves across the world, attracting backlash over Twitter, from media figures, disgruntled fans and government health officials.
Chief White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci gave a “resounding no” to CNN when asked whether any of the U.S.-approved vaccines affected fertility in men or women. “There is no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen, so the answer to your question is no,” Fauci said.
Health officials in the U.K. criticized Minaj for contributing to growing vaccine hesitancy that has stalled global efforts to immunize enough people to achieve herd immunity against the virus.
“There are a number of myths that fly around which are just clearly ridiculous,” Chris Whitty, the U.K.’s chief medical officer, said. “Some of which are clearly designed just to scare, that happens to be one of them. That is untrue.”
Minaj also retweeted a claim by a man who says his father got a blood clot in his left eye after receiving a Covid vaccine, became blind and ended up in the hospital with the virus that same week. While some of the vaccines have been tied to a rare blood clotting condition, none of the reported blood clots have occurred in the eyes or have caused blindness. Minaj also claimed that a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from Covid than unvaccinated people was “not true.”
Whitty said repetition of the claim will only give it more credence, “which they don’t need, they’re untrue, full stop.”
He also said that some people know that they are “peddling untruths” about the vaccine, and continue to do it anyway. “They should be ashamed, and I’ll leave it at that,” Whitty said.
Minaj responded to U.K. Prime Minster Boris Johnson after he said he didn’t know much about her. Minaj posted a sarcastic voice note in a fake British accent to Twitter, saying that she was a “big, big star” in the U.S. and joking that she attended Oxford University with Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister who died in 2013.
She also retaliated against several television hosts who criticized her tweets. She told former host of “The View,” Meghan McCain to “eat s—” after McCain retweeted Minaj’s comments about the testicular swelling, saying “That’s entirely enough internet for today.” Minaj also called popular British host Piers Morgan a “stupid piece of s—,” and said he should wear a “clown nose and big red shoes,” after he called her “one of the rudest little madams” he’s ever met — an insult Minaj embraced by adding it to her Twitter bio. Minaj and Morgan previously appeared together on “America’s Got Talent” in 2011, where Morgan claimed she ignored his children, something Minaj denied.
They weren’t the only media figures to face Minaj’s wrath; she used a racial slur in accusing MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid of being a liar and homophobic after Reid criticized her tweets. Minaj accused Reid and the rest of “the media” of twisting her words to serve white media executives.
“They’re being paid to do it,” she tweeted.
Despite the criticism, Minaj said she will probably get vaccinated because she has to go on tour. Some of Minaj’s followers defended the singer, saying the open discussion of vaccine skepticism is a healthy way to weed out misinformation in a public space.
Minaj retweeted another follower who said they received the vaccine and have not been infected with Covid. “This is the norm,” Minaj replied.
Correction: Chris Whitty is the U.K.’s chief medical officer. An earlier version misspelled his last name.