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5G testing negative to Coronavirus

Science reassures about the effects of new technologies on human organism.

by Luca Longo
15 October 2020
5 min read
byLuca Longo
15 October 2020
5 min read

It’s clear as day now: in times of crisis, fake news spreads quicker than any virus. That’s just what has happened with the myth that 5G networks are behind the Covid-19 pandemic, because they spread the SARS-CoV2 virus. Teams around the world are researching tirelessly to find out how the infection mechanism really works, find drugs with which to treat its victims and come up with a vaccine that will stop the virus claiming more.

But the scientific method is a slow process. Every hypothesis has to be analysed by interdisciplinary teams. Every theory must be tested against the facts. Every experiment must be repeated by independent teams around the world to make sure it’s valid. That kind of patience is often lacking on social media.

Watch out for false alarms

According to Newsguard, an association of fact-checking journalists, the idea of a link between 5G and coronavirus first emerged on a French conspiracy website, Les moutons enragés. Person-to-person infection was confirmed on 20  January (by which time China had at least 300 infected and six dead) and 5G antennae had been installed in Wuhan in the months leading up. Two days later it was all over the papers.

On 22  January, Het Laatste Nieuws in Belgium published an interview with a physician Kris Van Kerckhoven, with the unequivocal headline: “5G is life-threatening and no one knows it.” Three months later, some nutters across Europe started torching 4G antennae. Conspiracy theories about the dangers posed by these networks go back to the appearance of the first mobile phones in the early 1990s. But the first health scare about phones in general goes back all the way to the beginning of the 20th century.


Lots of people took part in a global protest against 5G

As the Los Angeles Daily Times reported at the time, the founding meeting of the Southern California Electro-Medical Society took place at the Hotel Hollenbeck on 3 June 1903. Under Dr. Shepard Barnum’s chairmanship, the new association’s 38 members tossed about their theories on how the human body interacted with X-rays, high- and low-frequency currents and radio waves. On 6 October 1924, in the sixth edition of Science and Invention, Hugo Gernsback –one of the fathers of modern science fiction and a scientist to boot– was forced to explain that the new radio technology was not responsible for flooding, drought or even earthquakes that year.

Italy played a decisive part in all this. In June 1936 Mussolini’s wife, Rachele Guidi, was driving along the Rome-Ostia route when approximately near Acilia, some cars, including her own, stopped suddenly for at least 20 minutes and then left again and proceeded normally. Responsibility for the event was given to the so-called death ray, experienced by Guglielmo Marconi -the inventor of the radio. Marconi had founded the Centro Radioelettrico Sperimentale at Torre Cannuccia, near Rome, in 1932 and been trying to point microwave beams at cars, planes and even grazing cows since then. The cars were probably stopped by his first attempts at making a radar system.

New devices and side-effects

A few dozen years later, in the 1990s, the first mobile phones turned up and, with them, a host of more and more new technologies. Everything from TACS to GSM, to 2G, 3G and 4G, then Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, raised concerns about the potential harmful effects of their electromagnetic frequencies. It’s been proven that electromagnetic waves like ultraviolet rays, X-rays and alpha, beta and gamma radiation can interact, often harmfully, with the human body, but only at much higher frequencies, thousands if not millions of times what we’re exposed to.

There's no evidence that at frequencies below visible radiation -particularly in the area of radio waves- there can be (positive or negative) interactions with human health. The 2019 report from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità Italiana shows it, giving a summary of years of research on human exposure to radio frequencies used for mobile phones, TV and other everyday gadgets. Afterwards, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has combined that first report with a study of the kind of radio frequencies you find in 5G networks.

The organisation confirmed that radiation at those frequencies can get into the human body and prompt a slight rise in body temperature, nowhere near as high as the rise when, say, you do an ordinary bit of physical exercise. On this basis, the mobile phones all around us can be considered reasonably safe, given the absolutely non-existent risk posed by all human equipment and activity.  In April 2020 the ICNIRP found itself forced to issue an official comment stressing that the idea that Covid-19 is in any way linked to 5G networks “is not supported by any experimental evidence (not even weak evidence), and the mass of scientific publications about electromagnetic radiation linked to 5G shows that these claims have no real foundation”.