CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus and the 5G conspiracy theories

There have been various conspiracy theories related to the spread of the disease and we consider how the latest connectivity technology has been included.

Is 5G expansion worsening the Coronavirus crisis?
MIKHAIL POCHUYEV TASS VIA GETTY IMAGES

The coronavirus pandemic is fertile ground for conspiracy theories. From the one that says it was created in a laboratory with obscure geopolitical and/or business objectives, to the idea that the recent expansion of 5G networks has caused the rapid spread of the pathogen. But please note that there is no evidence to support any of these stories…but plenty to refute them.

Is 5G to blame for Covid-19?...no!

The first argument that goes against the conspiracy theorists is that numerous studies have already provided robust evidence that the structure of the virus can only be as a result of natural selection. From there you have to then investigate the properties of the new technology being discussed, so called because it is the fifth generation of mobile phone networks, taking the speed of connection to new levels and allowing for a future world of the ‘internet of things’.

Proponents of this particular theory have gone so far as to attack telecommunications engineers and setting certain towers in the United Kingdom on fire. They argue that 5G weakens the immune system by emitting harmful radiation and therefore facilitates the entry of the coronavirus into the system. They also put forward the case that viruses use radio waves to communicate.

Let’s look at the first point on targeting the immune system, which quickly crumbles as we consider the electromagnetic spectrum. At its low frequency end we find the aforementioned radio waves. What does this mean? Well, this confirms that they do not produce ionising radiation and therefore cannot damage human DNA, unlike other frequencies such as x-rays and ultraviolet light, responsible for causing diseases such as cancer.

In fact, the radiation emitted by radio waves is at a level similar to that produced by televisions and…natural light. It is true that this new generation emits a little more than its predecessors but it is also true, according to Ofcom (the telecommunications regulator in the UK) that the maximum it can generate is 66 times below the safety limit. The UK Department of Health adds that “there should be no public health consequences" and the WHO has listed 5G under the heading 2B for carcinogens. That is, among those not proven to cause cancer. According to that classification, it falls alongside coffee.

The second argument is simply pure fantasy as there is no study pointing in that direction. In saying that, there have been people looking at the communication through radio waves that could occur between bacteria (although in no cases between different viruses), as per the one prepared by a group led by Allan Widom at Northeastern University in Boston, whose conclusions have been discussed by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Globalisation hits conspiracy hard

To top it off, coronavirus is already present across the majority of the inhabited parts of the planet, and this includes Africa and South America where the presence of 5G is still rare or, in most instances, non-existent. There is also no penetration of this technology in Iran, which has reported more than 90,000 cases of infection and well over 5,000 deaths.

And if we turn to one of the countries most affected by the disease, Spain, there is certainly a more convincing argument. In terms of the chronology: the first case was from a German tourist in La Gomera; then there was the Brit who arrived from a visit to the Alps in a group that included travellers from Singapore; and the resident of Seville who became infected after meeting with another person who, in turn, had been in contact with a couple from Shanghai. 5G is not the reason this coronavirus is spreading…globalisation is.

The director general of the GSMA, the global communications industry body, Mats Granryd, issued a statement hoping to end the talk.

“The telecoms industry is working around the clock to keep vital health, education and emergency services online, businesses running, and friends and families connected. It is deplorable that critical communications infrastructure is being attacked based on outright mistruths.

We urge everyone to trust health authorities and rest assured communications technology is safe. There is no link between 5G and Covid-19.”