Trinidad and Tobago Health Minister Denies Nicki Minaj's Claim that Vaccine Led to Swollen Testicles

“We unfortunately wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” Health Minister Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh said at a press conference

Nicki Minaj, Dr. Terrance Deyalsingh
Nicki Minaj; Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh. Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty; Government of Trinidad and Tobago

The health minister of Trinidad and Tobago forcefully denied Nicki Minaji's claim that her cousin's friend developed swollen testicles and became impotent from a COVID-19 vaccine, after he spent the day clarifying if it was possible.

On Monday, Minaj had tweeted that she would not be attending the Met Gala because she did not want to get vaccinated, and the event required inoculations for all attendees. As an explanation, she alleged that her cousin's friend in Trinidad got the vaccine and "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." Minaj also shared that she had recently contracted COVID-19 while working on a music video shoot.

In a press conference, Health Minister Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh apologized for his delay in responding to Minaj's claims, explaining that they "had to check and make sure that what she was claiming was either true or false."

"We unfortunately wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim. As far as we know, at this point in time, there has been no such reported either side effect or adverse effect," Deyalsingh said. "… As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad or … anywhere. None that we know of anywhere else in the world."

Deyalsingh also expressed his frustration that he had to investigate Minaj's claim.

"What was sad about this, is that it wasted our time yesterday, trying to track [it] down. Because we take all these claims seriously, whether it's on social media or mainstream media," he said.

Public health expert Dr. Leana Wen told PEOPLE on Monday that there is no known connection between any of the COVID-19 vaccines and impotency.

"It is just not true that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is associated with infertility in either males or females," Wen, who is an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, said.

And COVID-19 illness, rather than a vaccine, is far more likely to cause fertility issues, Wen said.

"In fact, we know that there are actually consequences, if somebody gets COVID-19, in terms of the impact on the male reproductive system," she said. "There have been studies that have linked scrotal discomfort and low sperm count to having COVID-19. In addition, there has been an association between scrotal swelling and congestion to having COVID-19. So, to emphasize, these are not associated with the vaccine but with the disease."

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Wen also said that it's problematic for celebrities like Minaj with large social media platforms to spread misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines when there are "more than 80 million Americans who have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine."

"Many of these individuals have heard misinformation and disinformation about the vaccine and are understandably scared as a result," Wen said. "It is extremely harmful to them to have influential figures, including celebrities with a large social media following to perpetuate this information. In times of crisis, we need for everyone to be singing from the same songbook and that is the songbook of science and evidence."

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