Tweet linking impotency to jabs sparks international furore / In­ter­na­tion­al back­lash erupt­ed yes­ter­day over Trinidad and To­ba­go-born Unit­ed States-based rap­per Oni­ka “Nic­ki Mi­naj” Ma­haraj’s so­cial me­dia claims in re­la­tion to COVID-19 vac­cines.

And that in­clud­ed a de­nial on her view from Chief Med­ical Ad­vis­er to the US Pres­i­dent Dr An­tho­ny Fau­ci and Eng­land’s chief med­ical ad­vis­er, Prof Chris Whit­ty.

Unit­ed King­dom Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son was al­so drawn in­to the is­sue, as were T&T-born peo­ple over­seas and lo­cal­ly af­ter the rap­per put T&T on the glob­al map with her the­o­ry about the vac­cine’s side ef­fects.

On Mon­day, Mi­naj spoke about the re­quire­ment to be vac­ci­nat­ed in or­der to at­tend this year’s Met Gala event in the US. Show biz queens Ri­han­na, Jen­nifer Lopez and oth­er head­line acts at­tend­ed the gala.

How­ev­er, in a mes­sage on Twit­ter, an ap­par­ent­ly un­vac­ci­nat­ed Mi­naj said, “If I get vac­ci­nat­ed it won’t for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough re­search. I’m work­ing on that now. ….”

She, how­ev­er, urged peo­ple to mask up. But Mi­naj fol­lowed up this by re­lat­ing a sto­ry about a fam­i­ly mem­ber’s friend in T&T who she claimed “be­came im­po­tent” af­ter get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed.

Her tweet stat­ed, “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vac­cine cuz his friend got it & be­came im­po­tent. His tes­ti­cles be­came swollen … His friend was weeks away from get­ting mar­ried, now the girl called off the wed­ding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re com­fort­able with ur de­ci­sion, not bul­lied.”

There was im­me­di­ate de­nial on her the­o­ry from US pub­lic health ex­pert Dr Leana Wen (George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty), who said im­po­ten­cy isn’t a known side ef­fect of any COVID-19 vac­cines that are cur­rent­ly au­tho­rised by the US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mi­naj’s tweet was al­so de­nied by US jour­nal­ist/New York Times best-sell­ing au­thor Kurt Eichen­wald, who said what she re­lat­ed wasn’t a vac­cine side ef­fect but was called hy­dro­cele and in adults, the pri­ma­ry cause was in­jury or sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­ease.

The in­ci­dent she re­ferred to al­so got im­me­di­ate “shade” and back­lash from many on her Twit­ter feed.

Up to 6.30 pm yes­ter­day, there were 32,700 re­spons­es on the ac­count, with peo­ple crit­i­cis­ing her re­marks as well as sup­port­ing her. Mi­naj re­tort­ed to some.

The Evening Stan­dard re­port­ed that UK PM John­son was drawn in­to the is­sue yes­ter­day when a re­porter asked him and Eng­land’s chief med­ical ad­vis­er Whit­ty about Mi­naj’s tweet.

John­son was quot­ed say­ing, “I’m not as fa­mil­iar with the work of Nic­ki Mi­naj as I prob­a­bly should be but I’m fa­mil­iar with Nik­ki Kanani, su­per­star gen­er­al prac­ti­tion­er of Bex­ley.”

But Eng­land chief med­ical ad­vis­er Whit­ty shot down Mi­naj’s vac­cine claims as un­true. He said it was de­signed to scare peo­ple. Whit­ty said Mi­naj should be “ashamed of her­self for ped­dling un­truths” on so­cial me­dia. He said there are a num­ber of myths that fly around, some of which are ridicu­lous and oth­ers de­signed to scare “and that hap­pened to be one of them.”

The Stan­dard re­port­ed that Mi­naj is­sued a “mock­ing video,” us­ing a fake British ac­cent ad­dress­ing PM John­son. She said sar­cas­ti­cal­ly that she was ac­tu­al­ly British, was born in the UK, at­tend­ed Ox­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, at­tend­ed school with Mar­garet Thatch­er and would send John­son a port­fo­lio of her work, since he didn’t know much about her.

The Stan­dard said Mi­naj added, “I’m a big big star in the Unit­ed States.”

The re­port al­so showed a Tweet from her say­ing her video should be sent to John­son.

“Let him know they lied on me. I for­give him. No one else. On­ly him,” she said.

In the US at 4 pm yes­ter­day, Dr Fau­ci was asked by CNN jour­nal­ist Jake Tap­per about Mi­naj’s claim and if the Pfiz­er, J&J and Mod­er­na vac­cines caused re­pro­duc­tive is­sues. Tap­per said it was un­be­liev­able and asked how health au­thor­i­ties could counter mis­in­for­ma­tion from big stars like Mi­naj. It was not­ed that Mi­naj had close to 180 mil­lion so­cial me­dia fol­low­ers.

Fau­ci said the an­swer on whether the vac­cines cause the is­sue she re­ferred to was a “re­sound­ing no” and there was no sci­en­tif­ic ev­i­dence to sup­port that hap­pens, nor is there any “mech­a­nis­tic rea­sons to imag­ine that it would hap­pen.” Sug­gest­ing cor­rect in­for­ma­tion be pro­vid­ed to de­bunk such claims, Fau­ci said he wasn’t blam­ing Mi­naj, who might be in­no­cent. But he added, “She should be think­ing twice about prop­a­gat­ing in­for­ma­tion that re­al­ly has no ba­sis ex­cept a one-off anec­dote and that’s not what sci­ence is about.”

Ac­claimed neu­ro­sur­geon and med­ical re­porter Dr San­jay Gup­ta al­so dis­missed Mi­naj’s claim. He said while he does not doubt the gen­tle­man’s tes­ti­cles are swollen, it’s not from the vac­cine.

“That’s not a thing. That’s not some­thing to wor­ry about,” he said.

Oth­er health­care providers al­so com­ment­ed on Mi­naj’s tes­tic­u­lar claim, dis­miss­ing it as be­ing un­true. 

Board-cer­ti­fied urol­o­gist Ash­ley Win­ter said: “The vac­cine does not cause or­chi­tis (ie swollen balls). Some­thing else caused that. Tons of da­ta that get­ting COVID does af­fect se­men pa­ra­me­ters and might lead to in­fer­til­i­ty. Vac­cines pre­vent COVID! Mis­in­for­ma­tion kills.”

On Sep­tem­ber 9, the Cen­tres for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) tweet­ed that vac­cines do not af­fect fer­til­i­ty. 

“You should get vac­ci­nat­ed against #COVID19 if you’re try­ing to get preg­nant now or in the fu­ture. No ev­i­dence to date shows that any vac­cines, in­clud­ing COVID-19 vac­cines, can cause fer­til­i­ty prob­lems in men or women,” it said.

Lo­cals laugh off claims

Com­ment­ing on Nic­ki Mi­naj’s Twit­ter feed was for­mer Min­is­ter De­vant Ma­haraj, who said, “We love the mu­sic … stick to that. Leave the med­ical stud­ies to those who qual­i­fied.”

T&T re­porter Ke­jan Haynes al­so com­ment­ed, “He went for a shot and end­ed up with …”

Peo­ple in T&T – as well as some in the US – yes­ter­day com­plained that Mi­naj’s com­ment was bring­ing T&T in­to dis­re­pute and would dis­cour­age peo­ple from get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed.

One young fan said they loved her mu­sic but didn’t like that she had “told the world about her cousin’s friend in Trinidad with swollen balls…she made it sound like T&T is a back­ward place,”

Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh didn’t an­swer queries yes­ter­day on whether Mi­naj’s vac­cine ad­vice would help or hurt the lo­cal bid to get cit­i­zens vac­ci­nat­ed. Tourism Min­is­ter Ran­dall Mitchell al­so did not an­swer calls or mes­sages on how her ac­tions and com­ments would af­fect T&T’s in­ter­na­tion­al im­age.

Dur­ing the Twit­ter de­bate on the is­sue, Mi­naj tweet­ed that a lot of coun­tries won’t let “ppl work w/o (with­out) the vac­cine and she’d “def” (def­i­nite­ly) rec­om­mend they get the vac­cine.

“They have to feed their fam­i­lies, I’m sure I’ll be vac­ci­nat­ed as well cuz I have to go on tour etc,” she said.

LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian

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