As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the globe, myths and conspiracies surrounding it are going viral too. One of the most prominent conspiracy theories links COVID-19 to the 5G network.
For weeks now, content with unfounded claims linking the next-generation wireless technology to the coronavirus has been circulating on the internet.
The hoax would probably have remained low key if search engine algorithms had not picked the traffic driven by conspiracy theorists and ranked the content high in search engine results. That is how the unsubstantiated claims linking the 5G to the coronavirus pandemic caught on and soon went viral.
Unfortunately, some celebrities and influencers threw their weight behind the claims. These celebs with millions of followers stoked the embers which are said to have contributed to the torching of cell phone towers in the UK.
Basically, there are several myths doing rounds over the internet. One popular myth claims that 5G networks emit radiation that compromises the immune system which has the effect of leaving the body wide open to infection. Another claims that it is the 5G network that is making people sick and not the coronavirus.
The people spreading these rumors ignore basic facts including information posted by the Centers for Disease Control on its website linking the virus to the seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China. According to the CDC, humans are likely to have contracted the virus after coming to contact with a certain animal which then spread from person to person.
On the other hand, the 5G network uses radio waves. Just like other cellular networks, the next generation network uses a system of cell sites and sends encoded data via radio waves. At the most basic level, the 5G network is an upgrade of the popular 4G network which is a common feature in mobile telephony. It is just that 5G is faster with higher bandwidth.
So, why are people associating 5G with the coronavirus?
Telecommunication companies started rolling out the network in 2018. However, the technology was adopted more widely in 2019. Towards the end of the year, Wuhan China reported its first case of COVID-19. Conspiracy theorists quickly associated 5G with the coronavirus. However, in doing so, they forgot an important principle based on the old wise saying: Correlation does not imply causation.
Curiously, what those myths have not mentioned is that countries such as Iran have not rolled out 5G yet they are battling the virus with thousands of infections and deaths since it reported the first case of COVID-19 on 19 February 2020.
According to Anni Sternisko, a social psychology researcher at New York University, there are social factors to conspiracy theories. One of these factors is based on the concept that a person or a group of people recognizes and holds the absolute truth. This usually facilitates people to feel “special and unique.”
So, there you have it. 5G is not the cause of COVID-19 and there is no link associating the two.