Popular Trini-born rapper Onika Maraj known as “Nicki Minaj” created a furore on social media Monday night when she tweeted an unsubstantiated claim about impotence and swollen testicles in someone in Trinidad following COVID-19 vaccination.
Responding to the incident during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said they were unable to find any truth to this claim despite thorough investigations—an effort he described as wasting “so much time running down this false claim”.
Given the country’s worryingly slow vaccine uptake by the population, Minister Deyalsingh lamented that the rapper’s tweet could further complicate matters.
“Suppose it was true… we don’t want to be accused of just ignoring it, but we spent a lot of time yesterday trying to track it down. So far it has not proven to be true either in Trinidad, or as Dr Hinds has said, anywhere else in the world that this is a known side effect or adverse effect of vaccination. But her tweet certainly did not help because people like her are social influencers and they do carry some sway. So, it certainly didn’t help and will make our job a little harder, which we don’t need right now,” the Minister of Health said.
Currently, the vaccination level among the T&T population is unsatisfactory. To date, only 39.2 per cent of the population have accessed a COVID-19 vaccine, with 32.1 per cent completing their regime. That means the majority of the population remains unvaccinated.
“We have to reach a couple of hundred-thousand people still…to get us out of the woods,” Minister Deyalsingh noted.