Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a top medical advisor to the president, has been forced to debunk a claim about COVID vaccination put forth by rapper Nicki Minaj — as told to her by a cousin, who heard it from a friend.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday, Fauci was asked to respond to one of Minaj’s recent remarks on Twitter, in which she claimed her cousin’s friend became impotent and developed swollen testicles as a result of his COVID-19 shot.
“Dr. Fauci, is there any evidence that the Pfizer of the Moderna or the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccines cause any reproductive issues in men or women?” Tapper asked.
“The answer to that, Jake, is a resounding no,” Fauci responded. “There’s 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 went on to say that Minaj, who boasts a Twitter following of over 22 million, should be “thinking twice” before posting such anecdotes, which are “not what science is about.”
Minaj drew criticism for her Twitter remarks on Monday, after saying that she wouldn’t be attending the Met Gala because guests are required to be vaccinated, and she hasn’t yet decided whether to get the shot.
A short while later, she shared another post in which she claimed her cousin in Trinidad decided against getting vaccinated “cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen.”
Minaj quickly became the target of criticism and mockery as a result of the tweet, perhaps most visibly by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who expressed interest in interviewing Minaj’s cousin’s friend about his alleged impotence. Minaj even responded to Kimmel’s request, saying he was “willing to talk for the right price.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, has also said there is no evidence to show that “any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines,” cause possible fertility issues in men or women. The agency currently recommends vaccination for those who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, as well as their partners.
Minaj had not responded to Fauci’s remarks as of Wednesday morning. She did, however, follow-up her earlier tweets with support for a fan who got vaccinated. She also responded to a fan who said she was unsure about getting the vaccine for work, and in doing so revealed that she, too, would likely choose to get vaccinated herself.
“A lot of countries won’t let ppl work w/o the vaccine,” Minaj wrote. “I’d def recommend they get the vaccine. They have families to feed. I’m sure I’ll b vaccinated as well cuz I have to go on tour, etc.”