As American Songwriter reported last week, singer Justin Bieber took to social media to alert fans about upcoming show cancellations due to health issues.
Namely, half his face was paralyzed. The condition, which is known as Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, is a complication of the shingles virus.
But, as you can see below, COVID-19 anti-vaxxers are taking the news to a new level.
On June 13, in an Instagram story post, Bieber wrote about his condition: “Wanted to share a little bit of how I’ve been feelin’. Each day has gotten better and through all of the discomfort I have found comfort in the one who designed me and knows me.”
Bieber took a great deal of comfort in his spirituality as he continued writing, “I’m reminded he knows all of me. He knows the darkest part of me that I want no one to know about and he constantly welcomes me into His loving arms. This perspective has given me peace during this horrific storm that I’m facing. I know this storm will pass but in the meantime, JESUS IS WITH ME.”
Consequently, the “Peaches” singer had to postpone the dates of his Justice World Tour on June 7 because of the Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
In an Instagram video post this past weekend, Bieber revealed his facial paralysis. He has seen serious side effects as he explains in the video how one of his eyes wasn’t blinking. He continued in the post saying, “I can’t smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move. So full paralysis in this side of my face.”
However, he has remained optimistic as he promised to get better. He explained in the video that “I’m doing all these facial exercises to get my face back to normal and it will go back to normal. It’s just time, and we don’t know how much time it’s gonna be. But it’s gonna be OK, I hope. I trust God.”
This isn’t the first health issue for the superstar. Earlier in his 20s, Bieber was diagnosed with Lyme disease—a tick-borne illness that can cause periodic flare-ups during one’s life.
Perhaps not surprisingly, however, Bieber’s health news has brought with it a lot of theories on the internet, among them anti-vaxxers trying to connect the dots between the COVID-19 vaccine and Bieber’s facial paralysis.
Reported Rolling Stone, one Twitter user wrote, “Everybody pretending Justin Bieber isn’t vaccine injured. The denial is way too deep.” That message has more than 3,400 shares. Some have even made the suggestion that Bieber’s wife, who suffered a stroke in March and was hospitalized for blood clots, also is suffering due to the vaccine. (What a surprise! Unsubstantiated claims on the world wide web!)
Bieber, of course, never mentioned the vaccine or COVID-19 in any of his news.
“Justin Bieber reveals he’s been struck by facial paralysis from Ramsay Hunt syndrome in shock video,” wrote one Twitter user the day Bieber dropped his video. “ANOTHER VACCINE VICTIM. HIS MRS HAD BLOOD CLOTS A FEW WEEKS AGO. HOW MUCH HAVE BILL GATES PAID HIM TOO COVER UP THE CAUSE.”
“It’s strange, the mental gymnastics that go on,” University of Illinois at Chicago epidemiologist Dr. Katrine Wallace told Gizmodo. “To them, it’s so clear that it’s a vaccine side effect even though we have no documentation he was even vaccinated.”
Sara Aniano, a researcher who tracks COVID-19 misinformation and like-minded conspiracy theories, wrote on Twitter, “Anti-vax theories are going viral yet again after Justin Bieber announced his current struggle with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. Despite there being no evidence of what caused it in Bieber’s case, conspiratorial social media reactions are expectedly wild. >>”
Adding, “That said, there ARE voices of reason on occasion in these spaces, and these examples highlight two very important perspectives: 1) COVID vaccines are not the root cause of all ailments today, and 2) People got Ramsay Hunt Syndrome before the pandemic even happened.”