The White House offered to connect rapper Nicki Minaj with one of the Biden administration’s doctors to answer questions about the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
The offer came after Minaj had posted false information about the vaccines on Twitter and as the White House looks to get more aggressive about combating widespread misinformation about the vaccines.
The rapper claimed on Wednesday that she had been invited to the White House and she was going, but Psaki appeared to refute that type of invitation at a White House press briefing on Thursday.
“We’re not even at the point of discussing, I should say, at this point, the mechanisms or format or anything along those lines. It was simply an offer to have a conversation,” Psaki told reporters.
She said it was a “very early-stage call at a staff level” and that the White House regularly engages with people who have large public platforms.
“This is pretty standard and something we do all the time,” Psaki said.
Minaj on Monday told her 22.7 million followers on Twitter that she was not attending the Met Gala in New York City because of the Covid-19 vaccine requirement, and said if she gets vaccinated it will be “once I feel I’ve done enough research.”
She later suggested in a tweet that the vaccines cause impotence, but there is no link between the Covid-19 vaccines and infertility. She shared an unverified story about a friend of her cousin in Trinidad becoming impotent after getting a Covid-19 shot.
“His testicles became swollen,” Minaj claimed in a tweet that has more than 137,000 likes and nearly 24,000 retweets.
When asked about the tweet on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief Covid-19 medical adviser, told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “There is 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 and to essentially debunk these kinds of claims which, you know, may be innocent on her part.”
“I’m not, you know, blaming her for anything, but she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis as except a one-off anecdote. And that’s not what science is all about,” Fauci said.
Despite an abundance of supply of Covid-19 vaccines, the Biden administration is struggling to get the rest of the US population vaccinated, in part because of rampant misinformation. Dangerous falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines are swirling, particularly on social media platforms like Facebook, and as health experts warn that the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to spread.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has warned that health misinformation is “a serious threat to public health,” and in July blamed misinformation for the slowing pace of vaccinations.
Just over 54% of the total US population is vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The US is now averaging 150,497 new Covid-19 cases each day, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 99% of the US population lives in a county where people should be wearing a mask indoors, according to the new CDC guidance.
This story has been updated with comments from White House press secretary Jen Psaki.