Linking the emergence of the novel coronavirus to 5G might seem absurd to some, but a great number of people have adopted this theory to justify the sudden appearance of the virus and its rapid spread. Health concerns related to 5G radiation were debated long before COVID-19, however, many have exploited this crisis to raise their voices and refuse 5G to be deployed.
A large campaign promoting one of the many conspiracy theories justifying the spread of coronavirus was gaining momentum on social media platforms. The promoters of this theory argue that Wuhan was the first city in China to deploy 5G which is why the virus erupted from that specific area of the world. However, one who follows telecoms news will know that Wuhan was one of the several cities chosen to pilot the technology.
Proponents of this theory have most likely believed those wrong facts as a means to find an explanation to what is happening to our world today. In fact, they tend to forget Iran or Ecuador where the virus ravaged both countries without a single 5G tower there.
Some believe that this conspiracy theory originated from a post by a Belgian doctor who suggested in January a link between coronavirus and 5G. This theory was nurtured by posts from celebrities who agreed with the fact that COVID-19 happened due to 5G.
According to the World Health Organization, “Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body. As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye). Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.”
However, the theory was boosted by what some researchers have called a coordinated disinformation campaign which fueled vandalism notably in the UK, Cyprus, France and Ireland where phone masts were damaged in arson attacks. Officials have warned that such attacks will undermine vital telecommunications links at a time when they’re needed the most to maintain communication during this pandemic.
Tech giants have taken measures to ban 5G conspiracy theory content, namely YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp in their fight against fake news and misleading information that are circulating on those platforms ever since COVID-19 became a global pandemic.
5G played an important role in China to contain the coronavirus and help patients. It is through 5G networks that telemedicine was possible and patients were treated remotely which has decreased the person-to-person contact, thus limiting the spread of the virus.
Conspiracy theories can only be refuted through education and knowledge. Before believing, looking into a piece of information before sharing it can help fight disinformation. Reliable sources can always help to tell whether a theory is unfounded.