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The fight against 5G Conspiracies on the Spread of COVID-19

Earlier in 2020, we published an article on How 5G can help stop spread of Covid-19. This was meant as a way of helping fight the conspiracy theories online about 5G networks harming us, or enabling the pandemic. Despite the many articles, videos, and commentaries debunking these theories, we still saw many people join these conspiracy groups, protest against the network, and even destroy masts in the name of doing away with 5G so they don’t get the coronavirus.

In the article linked above, we discussed the ways in which the speed of communication, thanks to 5G had improved how doctors and patients interacted in different parts of China, as they fought the spread of the virus. A white-paper from Deloitte showed that public health systems would gain much more efficiency, reach more people, and be better equipped to deal with Coronavirus if they had access to the fast connectivity thanks to 5G.

The many articles however, didn’t seem to stop people from believing in their conspiracies. Whether it is thanks to a lack of information, or it is the refusal to read, or it is celebrities minting on their fame, something made a wide number of people across the world believe that fighting 5G would stop the spread of COVID-19. And with minds made up, little or nothing would stop them.

We saw a rise in Facebook groups, Instagram posts, and weird articles all claiming how 5G radiation was to blame. Groups that had a good number of people would share fake news about how radiation saturation had caused people to die, and how protecting yourself from 5G would help you. There were even petitions online calling on different governments to pass legislation banning 5G. In Australia, one of such petitions, before getting pulled down, got over 27,000 signatures.

So what exactly is 5G?

If you studied Physics in High School, you will remember the Electro-magnetic spectrum. Well if you didn’t here’s a quick explanation: In our existence, there’s very many forms of light that exist. There’s the light that we can see, and the light that’s invisible to human eyes. The spectrum is a way of showing the entire range of light available both that we can see and not see, the speeds at which all these light travel at, and whether or not the light is ionising or non-ionising.

In the diagram below you can see the spectrum including the wavelengths different “lights” travel at. Take a close look, you’ll see that VISIBLE light is a very small portion of the spectrum. You’ll also see one side of the spectrum has Non-ionising radiation while the other side has the Ionising radiation. Ionising means being capable of removing electrons from the atoms they’re attached to. That means being able to penetrate through skin etc. That’s why in the ionising radiation side, you will see UV light, X-rays and Gamma rays.

Electromagnetic spectrum
Source: Australia Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency

5G is the 5th generation of mobile phone technology. We had the first gen, then came 2G networks, then 3G and 4G, and now we are at the beginning of 5G. I say beginning because, there’s still a couple of standards that haven’t been properly explained on 5G speeds, range and all that. However, the specific type of electromagnetic energy used by mobile phones is known called radio frequencies or radio waves.

In the chart below, you can see where radio frequencies fall. They’re under the non-ionising side of the electromagnetic spectrum. Now look at the range in which 5G currently operates, and where it could operate in the future, with more advancements. Both fall under the non-ionising radiation, which is a range where no harm can be done to humans. If you have a WiFi router at home, you’re already using this type of radiation to connect to the internet.

Ofcom 5G Spectrum Infographic
Source: Ofcom

Yes, this is radiation and yes it comes to contact with your skin, and your ears when making a phone call, or when interacting with 5G devices, but this is the non-ionising type of radiation that cannot harm your body. It is radiation that cannot penetrate your skin, neither can it carry any virus, or spread it around. Also, the coronavirus cannot hijack this type of radiation, as other conspiracy theorists have been purporting, because a virus and a network signal cannot interact.

So whenever someone raises the 5G-Corona myth, feed them some truth. Teach them some science. And remind them that the only way they can get coronavirus from a phone is by not cleaning it well, as particles from someone sneezing or coughing can land on the phone and they can later interact with it, and get sick. So remember to clean your phone, and wear a mask.


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