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The Margin: Health officials debunk Nicki Minaj’s claim that COVID vaccine caused impotence

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Turns out, Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend may not have been a credible source after all.

On Monday, the pop star tweeted a claim that her cousin’s friend in her home country of Trinidad had become impotent after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, suffering from swollen testicles, which caused his fiancee to leave him.

While the dubious tweet sparked much mockery on Twitter, it got the attention of some actual experts, who quickly shot down the story.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN during an interview Tuesday that the vaccine does not make men impotent. “There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen,” he said.

“There’s a lot of misinformation, mostly on social media, and the only way we know to counter mis- and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information,” Fauci added. “And to essentially debunk these kinds of claims, which 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.”

On Wednesday, Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh, the health minister for Trinidad & Tobago, said the tweet sent officials on a wild goose chase trying to track down such a patient. They could not.

Deyalsingh said in a video statement Wednesday that there had been no reports anywhere in the country of swollen testicles or impotence as a result of the vaccine, nor were officials aware of any such cases  “anywhere else in the world.”

“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.”

The U.K.’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty said Minaj should be “ashamed” for spreading misinformation. “There are a number of myths that fly around which are just clearly ridiculous,” he said Wednesday, according to The Independent. “Some of which are clearly designed just to scare, that happens to be one of them. That is untrue.”

Minaj’s claim was picked up by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who defended her on air, sparking another round of internet mockery aimed at Minaj.

Minaj said Monday she has not received the vaccine, and has defended her vaccine skepticism online. On Wednesday night Minaj tweeted that she had been invited to the White House to discuss the matter, though later on an Instagram Live post said she was now in “Twitter jail” because of her posts, implying that she had been suspended..

However, “Twitter did not take any enforcement action on the account referenced,” a Twitter spokesperson said Wednesday night.

As for the White House invitation, and official told the press: “As we have with others, we offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.”

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