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Why is any association between 5G and COVID-19 false?

This article was published on
April 29, 2021

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5G is a fifth generation mobile technology network does not cause COVID-19. The idea that 5G is linked to the spread of COVID-19 is a myth and has been widely disproven by experts since January 2020.

5G is a fifth generation mobile technology network does not cause COVID-19. The idea that 5G is linked to the spread of COVID-19 is a myth and has been widely disproven by experts since January 2020.

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What our experts say

5G is the fifth generation mobile network after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks were created. This network was designed to connect people, machines, devices, and other technology using faster speeds, more reliability, greater capacity, increased availability, and improved performance standards in comparison to the earlier generations of mobile networks from the 1990s (1G) to the 2010s (4G). The 5G network was built around the increase in smart phones and devices which required more from the 4G wireless network than it could provide.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread, the 5G mobile network was also developing around world. In January of 2020, some social media users suggested that the spread of 5G was helping accelerate or directly causing the spread of the virus, despite there being no evidence to support this conclusion. COVID-19 is caused by a virus strain called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and is transmitted primarily through the respiratory tract when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes and spread the virus into the air. It is not possible for 5G mobile technology to spread this virus.

There have been concerns that the limited amount of radiation that the technology produces can weaken the immune system, making people more likely to become infected with the virus. Despite the fact that this low level of radiation may be emitted through 5G networks, if it were at dangerous enough levels to weaken the immune system, most people who use their smartphones to access the network would likely be highly ill, which is not the case. In fact, 5G is highly like to have lower potential health impacts than the previous generations of mobile networks. It has been designed to use and emit less power while also lowering operation costs.

Additionally, radiation is not the same thing as radioactivity. Radiation occurs when any object gives off energy, and that energy goes through some kind of channel and then gets absorbed by another object. You can think about this like a small flame that helps boil a pot of water. As the flame goes through the metal channel (the pot) it gets absorbed until it is hot enough to cause the water to start bubbling.

We are exposed to radiation every day, including the radiation caused by the sun when it hits our skin. This does not mean it is radioactive. 5G base stations, phones, and frequencies are highly likely to operate within safety parameters so they don't weaken the immune system or raise the risk of cancer in any notable way.

On the other hand, radioactivity is the random emission of radiation that comes from a nuclear reaction like nuclear bombs and explosions. The amount of radiation that comes from 5G networks is tiny in comparison to the radioactivity listed above and does not harm the human immune system, let alone cause COVID-19.

Radiation from 5G towers does not mix with air to become poisonous or prevent people from being able to breathe. Similarly 4G and 5G radiation does not kill birds, a theory that has been widely disproven by scientists, researchers, and bird groups.

Context and background

Since January 2020, conspiracy theories have emerged about the impacts of 5G mobile networks on human health, including as a potential cause of COVID-19. Though this myth has been denounced repeatedly over the last 15 months as false, the story continues to circulate among social media outlets. It is not possible for a mobile technology to cause an infectious disease like COVID-19.

Resources

  1. COVID-19, 5G conspiracies and infrastructural futures (Media International Australia)
  2. ‘Corona? 5G? or both?’: the dynamics of COVID-19/5G conspiracy theories on Facebook (Media International Australia)
  3. RETRACTED: 5G Technology and induction of coronavirus in skin cells (Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents)
  4. COVID-19 and the 5G Conspiracy Theory: Social Network Analysis of Twitter Data (Journal of Medical Internet Research)
  5. 5G Radiofrequency - RF EMF (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection)
  6. Report linking 5G to COVID-19 swiftly debunked (Medical Xpress)
  7. The fuss over 5G, explained (Vox)
  8. 5G is not hazardous to your health: Busting the radiation risk myth (Deloitte)
  9. Conspiracy theorists burn 5G towers claiming link to virus (Associated Press News)
  10. Everything you need to know about 5G (Qualcomm)
  11. How the 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory went from fringe to mainstream (Vox: recode)
  12. 5G doesn't cause COVID-19, but the rumor it does spread like a virus (EurekAlert!)
  13. Bill Gates, Wuhan Lab, 5G: 9 crazy conspiracy theories COVID has spawned (yahoo! news)
  14. No, 5G Radio Waves Do Not Kill Birds (National Audubon Society)

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