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M.I.A. under fire after posting anti-vaccine message amid coronavirus pandemic

Musician and activist M.I.A. visits Build Series to discuss the documentary film 'Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.' at Build Studio on Sept. 27, 2018 in New York City.
Musician and activist M.I.A. visits Build Series to discuss the documentary film 'Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.' at Build Studio on Sept. 27, 2018 in New York City. Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

M.I.A. is facing a wave of criticism online after revealing she’s an anti-vaxxer as the world grapples with the new coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the British rapper, born Mathangi Arulpragasam, took to Twitter, saying she’d rather “choose death” over “the vaccine or chip.” The comment came as researchers around the world work to develop a vaccination against COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 22,000 people as of March 25.

“If I have to choose the vaccine or chip I’m gonna choose death — YALA,” she wrote, referencing her own 2013 hit, Y.A.L.A, which stands for You Always Live Again.

“Have a healthy life,” M.I.A. wrote. “Don’t live in fear!”

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The 44-year-old’s comment prompted a major backlash from both fans and haters.

After responses flooded in, M.I.A. came back an hour later, telling people not to panic.

“You are OK. You are not gonna die,” she tweeted.

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“You can make it without stressing the medical systems. Just breathe. You are going to be OK,” the Paper Planes singer continued. “You can make it through without jumping in the frying pan. You are fine. All the vaccines you’ve already had is enough to see you through.”

Half an hour later, she returned to Twitter to address some social media users who had suggested she was either “cancelled” or “irrelevant.”

“Cancelling is irrelevant,” she wrote.

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In response, one user tweeted: “Anti-vaxxers don’t get cancelled, they die, sis.”

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After being labelled an anti-vaxxer, M.I.A. reportedly responded to a user in a since-deleted tweet claiming that getting her child vaccinated was “the hardest thing” she had ever done.

“In America, they made me [vaccinate] my child before the school admission,” she wrote, according to NME. “I never wanna feel that again. He was so sick for 3 weeks then [doctors] had to pump him with antibiotics to reduce the fever from 3 vaxins [sic].”

READ MORE: ‘Contagion’ medical consultant tests positive for coronavirus

In another deleted tweet, M.I.A. tried to validate her reasoning for opposing vaccinations altogether.

“As an adult you have choice,” she wrote, according to NME, adding: “By then you’ve built your immune system.”

Here’s what some other Twitter users had to say in response to M.I.A.’s comments:

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“M.I.A. being an anti-vaxxer is kind of perfect,” tweeted another social media user. “It’s like her common sense on the subject is… missing in action…”

READ MORE: Lady Gaga postpones new album ‘Chromatica’ amid coronavirus outbreak

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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adam.wallis@globalnews.ca