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5G and coronavirus: a new conspiracy theory causes panic and looting

As coronavirus spans the world, rumors are spreading about what caused it. Now the theory that 5G is to blame is popular on the net. But radio waves cannot create the virus that causes COVID-19. Writes about this CNet.

Photo: Shutterstock

But that did not stop the threats against broadband engineers and setting fire to telephone towers in the UK, prompting British operators to ask people to stop burning towers, and the UK National Medical Director called the 5G conspiracy theory "complete bullshit." Communication networks are critical in the fight against a pandemic.

Conspiracy theory spread on social media when Keri Hilson, an American singer with 4,2 million followers on Twitter, wrote in March several tweets that attempted to link coronavirus to 5G. She wrote: “People have been trying to warn us about 5G for many years. 5G was launched in China on November 1, 2019, and people began to die. ”

In early April, actor Woody Harrelson became the last celebrity to mistakenly associate 5G with coronavirus. He shared an article in an Instagram post that says that although he didn’t “fully test” the rumors linking 5G with a pandemic spanning the whole world, he finds this theory very interesting.

Other YouTube and Facebook users, including the Facebook vs. 5G group, also shared false allegations. But YouTube said Tuesday that it will remove videos that talk about 5G as a pandemic pathogen.

“We are committed to providing timely and useful information at this critical juncture, including increasing authoritative content, reducing the spread of malicious disinformation and displaying dashboards, using NHS and WHO data to help combat disinformation,” YouTube said in a statement. - Now any content that disputes the existence or transmission of COVID-19 as described by WHO and local health authorities is in violation of YouTube's policy. This includes conspiracy theories that the disease is caused by 5G. "

Facebook also stated that it removes messages that link 5G to the coronavirus.

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“We are taking active steps to stop the spread of misinformation and malicious content on our platforms and provide people with accurate information about the coronavirus,” the company said in a statement. “In line with our current policy against harmful misinformation, we are beginning to address false claims that link COVID-19 technology to 5G technology.”

In March, a Facebook user named Ben Mackie linked 5G to a coronavirus, saying the virus did not exist.

“They are trying to scare you with a fake virus when 5G towers are being built around the world,” he said. He also stated that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates invented the technology and that it is an attempt to depopulate the world. Maki also said that vaccines being developed to fight the coronavirus are actually chips that will be implanted in humans.

These claims have been refuted by British fact-checking FullFact and other experts.

“This story about 5G is scientifically untrustworthy and, like other such misinformation, could divert attention from the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic,” said Dr. Jonathan Samet. Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health.

Brendan Carr, an employee on the Federal Communications Commission, said on Twitter that COVID-19 was caused by a virus spreading from person to person rather than radio waves, and he reiterated that the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency claimed 5G is safe.

5G is a new ultra-fast wireless technology that is spreading around the world. In the US, major cities have 5G networks. 5G is also available in a number of other countries such as China, South Korea, Germany and the UK. The technology is designed to change the way we live and is expected to power everything from self-driving cars to advanced augmented reality experiences.

5G and health problems?

Ever since companies first started talking about 5G, some people have raised concerns about the health effects of technology. One version of 5G, called the millimeter wave, operates on high-frequency radio waves. These signals cannot propagate over long distances, so the towers should be located close to each other and installed in more places. This has heightened fears that radio waves can create harmful radiation that can cause brain cancer, decreased fertility, headaches and other illnesses.

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The FDA and FCC say there is nothing to worry about because studies have not found a connection between the radio frequency signals from mobile phones or cell towers and diseases. But since 5G is an innovation, there is no exact way to find out if it will cause long-term health problems.

We can definitely say that 5G does not cause or spread the virus.

“This is a ludicrous theory,” said John Bucher, a senior fellow at the National Toxicology Program, a US public health and human services interagency program dedicated to testing and evaluating substances in our environment. - Every year you get a new strain of flu that spreads around. This is what viruses do - mutate and move around in this way, probably for as long as life exists. "

Coronavirus is a type of virus that spreads from person to person. He does not travel on radio waves. You can't get it from using your phone or watching TV - unless the phone itself or the remote is contaminated with the coronavirus. This new coronavirus belongs to the Coronaviridae family. It looks like jagged rings when viewed under an electron microscope, and is named after the spines that form a halo or "crown" around its viral envelope.

The theory of the connection of 5G and coronavirus concerns one aspect: COVID-19 came from China, because most 5G network towers are located there.

“There seems to be no doubt that animals are the source of the coronavirus, according to experts such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control,” says CTIA, the wireless communications industry trade association.

This is not the first time that 5G has been the target of conspiracy theories. A television company funded by the Russian government, RT America, published a report a year ago, entitled “5G Wireless: A Dangerous Experiment on Humanity,” in which it tried to catch the fear of technology.

What scientists say

But scientists say that the idea of ​​a connection between Covid-19 and 5G is "complete absurdity" and biologically impossible, writes with the BBC.

Conspiracy theories have been called the “worst kind of fake news” by NHS England Medical Director Stephen Powys.

Many of those who share the conspiracy theory that 5G - which is used in mobile networks and uses signals transmitted by radio waves - is somehow responsible for the hysteria around the coronavirus.

The theory was divided into 2 parts, one claims that 5G can suppress the immune system, making people more susceptible to infection with the virus, the other suggests that the virus can be transmitted in some way using 5G technology.

"The idea that 5G lowers your immune system doesn't hold up," says Dr. Simon Clarke, assistant professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading. - Your immune system can be weakened by all sorts of things - fatigue or poor diet. These fluctuations are small, but can make you more susceptible to infection by viruses. "

Although very strong radio waves can cause heat, 5G is far from strong enough to heat people enough to have any meaningful effect.

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“Radio waves can disrupt your physiology as they heat you up, which means your immune system won't be able to function. But the energy levels of 5G radio waves are tiny and nowhere near strong enough to affect the immune system, ”says Dr. Clark.

The radio waves used in 5G and other mobile phone technologies are at the low-frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Less powerful than visible light, they are not strong enough to damage cells - unlike radiation at the higher frequency at the end of the spectrum, which includes the sun's rays and medical X-rays.

Adam Finn, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol, adds that 5G will also not be able to transmit the virus.

“The current epidemic is caused by a virus that spreads from one infected person to another. We know this to be true. We even have a virus growing in our laboratory from a sick person. Viruses and electromagnetic waves that emanate from mobile phones and internet connections are different things. Like chalk and cheese, ”he says.

It's also important to note another major flaw in the conspiracy theory - the coronavirus is spreading in cities in the UK that have not yet deployed 5G, and in countries like Iran that have not yet deployed the technology.

Earlier this year, a lengthy study by the International Commission on Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP) refuted these allegations, saying there was no evidence that mobile networks caused cancer or other diseases.

But what if, misinformation seems to have escalated. The Department of Digital Technology, Culture, Media and Sports confirmed that "there is absolutely no reliable evidence of this connection."

Viruses penetrate the cells of humans or animals and use them for reproduction, which causes infection. Viruses cannot live very long outside a living being, so they “look for the next victim” - usually through drops of liquid from a cough or sneeze.

Sequencing the genome of this coronavirus suggests that it jumped from animals to people, and then began to move from person to person.

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