Why 5G is not linked to the spread of coronavirus
Conspiracy theories linking 5G signals to the coronavirus pandemic continue to spread despite there being no evidence the mobile phone signals pose a health risk.
The misinformation spread after an interview with a doctor in January 2020 who pointed out that since 2019 a number of 5G cell towers had been built around Wuhan and that this might be linked to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When this interview was picked up, online talkshow hosts and vloggers began hosting videos on YouTube claiming they were revealing “the truth” about 5G and coronavirus, racking up tens of thousands of views.
With the acceleration of this idea going viral, some people have decided to take matters into their own hands, setting fires at masts across the UK in Birmingham, Liverpool and Merseyside.
These theories centre around the view that 5G suppresses the immune system, and that the virus is somehow using the network’s radio waves to communicate and pick victims, accelerating its spread.
While 5G uses different radio frequencies to its predecessors, the waveband involved is still “non-ionising”, and therefore lacks enough energy to break apart chemical bonds in the DNA in our cells that would enable it to cause damage.
Put simply, while very strong radio waves can disrupt your physiology, as they heat you up, meaning your immune system can’t function, the energy levels from 5G radio waves are tiny and they are nowhere near strong enough to affect the immune system. Indeed, your microwave emits a more powerful wavelength than the nearby 5G mast. What’s more, 5G signals are weaker at penetrating objects than 4G signals, which is why 5G networks require many more, smaller cell sites built close together.
It also worth pointing out that there have been lots of studies into the effects of 5G on health. For example, at the beginning of 2020 a long-running study from the watchdog the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection said there was no evidence that mobile networks cause cancer or other illnesses.
Finally, another major flaw with the conspiracy theories is that coronavirus is spreading in countries where 5G has yet to be deployed. Isolated islands in the Pacific even have cases, and there are no 5G masts anywhere nearby.
However, the rapid spread of fake news during the pandemic has forced the likes of Facebook, Google, Reddit, Microsoft and Twitter to issue a statement saying they will work together to ‘combat fraud and misinformation about the virus’. YouTube, for instance, has changed its policy on videos linking coronavirus to 5G, saying that they’ll be taken down.
During the pandemic mobile networks provide essential connectivity to our emergency services; they enable families to check in on their isolated or vulnerable loved ones; parents to teach their children from home; and millions to be informed and entertained as they stay home. It is therefore imperative that these the networks can function.
If you have any questions about 5G, we encourage you to read our previous posts that can explain exactly how the technology compares to previous generations. Alternatively, feel free to leave a comment in the section below.