Conspiracy theories claiming that 5G technology helps transmit the coronavirus have been condemned by the scientific community.
Videos have been shared on social media showing masts of burning mobile phones in Birmingham and Merseyside – as well as the statements.
The posts have been shared on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram – including through verified accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers.
But scientists say the idea of a connection between Covid-19 and 5G is “completely out of whack” and biologically impossible.
Conspiracy theories have been called “the worst kind of fake news” by NHS England medical director Stephen Powis.
Many who share the message put forward a conspiracy theory that 5G – which is used in mobile phone networks and relies on signals carried by radio waves – is somehow responsible for the coronavirus.
These theories appear to have appeared for the first time via Facebook posts in late January, around the same time that the first cases were registered in the United States.
They seem to be distributed globally in two camps:
- 5G is said to suppress the immune system, making people more likely to get the virus.
- The other suggests that the virus can be transmitted in one way or another using 5G technology.
These two concepts are “complete garbage,” says Dr. Simon Clarke, associate professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading.
“The idea that 5G lowers your immune system doesn’t stand up to the test,” says Dr. Clarke.
“Your immune system can be overwhelmed by all kinds of things – being tired one day or not eating properly. These fluctuations are not huge, but can make you more likely to get viruses.
“Radio waves can disrupt your physiology by heating you up, which means your immune system cannot function. But 5G radio waves are tiny and far from strong enough to affect the immune system. There have been a lot of studies on this. “”
It would also be impossible for 5G to transmit the virus, adds Adam Finn, professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol.
“The current epidemic is caused by a virus that is spread from one infected person to another. We know it’s true. We even have the virus that is growing in our laboratory, obtained from a person with the disease. Viruses and electromagnetic waves that make mobile phones and Internet connections work differently. As different as chalk and cheese, “he says.
It is also important to note another major flaw in conspiracy theories – the coronavirus is spreading in British cities where 5G has not yet been deployed, and in countries like Iran that have not yet deployed it. technology.
There were a lot of scary stories about 5G circulating before the coronavirus epidemic that Reality Check has already reviewed, like this piece: Does 5G pose health risks?
Earlier this year, a long-standing study of the watchdog from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) refuted these claims, saying there was no evidence that mobile networks cause cancer. or other illnesses.
However, disinformation seems to have intensified.
The commercial organization Mobile UK has said that false rumors and theories linking 5G and the coronavirus are “cause for concern”, while the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports has reiterated that there is “Absolutely no credible evidence of this connection”.
Viruses invade human or animal cells and use them to reproduce, causing infection. Viruses cannot live very long outside of a living being, so they need to find a way to get into it – usually via droplets of fluid from coughing or sneezing.
Sequencing the genome of this coronavirus suggests that it went from animal to man – and then started to go from human to human.
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