Fauci and experts weigh in on Nicki Minaj’s #BallGate Covid-19 vaccine misinformation
The country’s lead authority on infectious diseases is the latest medical expert to call out "misinformation" found in the hip hop star’s public remarks about the shots.
On Monday, Minaj – whose given name is Onika Tanya Maraj – came under fire after announcing she wouldn’t attend the 2021 Met Gala because of its vaccine mandate and, in the same tweet, revealing that she isn’t vaccinated.
During her social media oversharing, the Trinidadian-born lyricist also made claims about a cousin of hers refusing to get the vaccine after "his friend" got the shot and suffered an alleged reproductive side effect, referring to "swollen testicles" and "impotence."
A chorus of people – including respected medical experts and political commentators – have since called out Minaj, saying she is spreading unfounded claims and hearsay to her fan base, which consists of 22.6 million Twitter followers. Minaj has clapped back at many.
Trinidad and Tobago's Health Minister Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh even responded to the entertainer on Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim," he said in a press conference.
"There has been no such reported either side effect or adverse event ... It wasted our time," he added.
Also, he said their office had not heard of a single reported case of the side effect in the country, and "none that we know of anywhere else in the world."
Dr. Fauci, who has been at the forefront of the pandemic battle since it hit the US last year, emphatically refuted the claims made by the rapper, whose hits include Stupid Ho.
"There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen," he firmly declared during an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s The Lead.
The 80-year epidemiologist also stressed the dangers of spreading inaccurate info on a large social media platform, saying Minaj can wrongfully convince people to not get the vaccine by sharing mistruths that spark alarm.
"There is a lot of misinformation, mostly on social media. The only way we know to counter mis and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information," the doctor said. "These claims may be innocent on her part. I’m not blaming her for anything. But she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis except a one-off anecdote. That’s not what science is all about."
Despite promoting what many perceived as vaccine skepticism, the 38-year-old new mom did not explicitly discourage her followers from getting inoculated and said she may eventually, because she has to go on tour.
On its most updated information page on vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there is "currently no evidence that any vaccines, including Covid-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men."
Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/UPI Photo & agefotostock