There’s a new conspiracy theory about COVID-19 that’s currently spreading online. Some are blaming 5G technology for the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They seem to believe that the virus can travel via radio waves and embark on a digital infecting spree. Unfortunately, this has prompted some individuals in the United Kingdom to destroy mobile masts and even verbally assault telecom engineers, emphasizing the need to debunk this rumor post-haste.
The notion that mobile phones can cause a plethora of illnesses is hardly a novel one. This myth persists because of conspiracy theorists with a limited understanding of how mobile phones actually work.
5G operates in the 30 to 300 GHz range—a higher frequency than previous generations. Regardless, all generations of wireless communications technologies are classified as non-ionizing radiation. This means that like our microwave ovens and television sets, the radio waves that our mobile devices emit aren’t strong enough to damage our DNA when they come in contact with our skin. In other words, unless we use our devices excessively, they are unlikely to harm our cells.
Aside from the lack of evidence that 5G radiation can spread SARS-CoV-2, the idea of a biological agent interacting with radio waves is fundamentally ridiculous and unscientific. Following that logic, the Sun—which emits radiation spanning most of the electromagnetic spectrum, including radio waves—should be treated as the biggest factor behind this ongoing pandemic.
Admittedly, it does make sense to be concerned about getting COVID-19 through your mobile phone. However, it’s not your service provider you should be worried about. Instead, you should focus on disinfecting your device. Since COVID-19 primarily spreads through the transmission of small droplets, it’s important to regularly clean the gadget that you hold next to your ears and mouth.
Sharing such conspiracy theories, even with the best of intentions, does not help us in any way. Sure, it’s tempting to speculate about things that are mysterious to us. Regardless, we should never give misinformation any sort of signal boost.
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Author: Mikael Angelo Francisco
Bitten by the science writing bug, Mikael has years of writing and editorial experience under his belt. As the editor-in-chief of FlipScience, Mikael has sworn to help make science more fun and interesting for geeky readers and casual audiences alike.