In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, almost all of us have heard and/or read one or two conspiracy theories about the virus.…
Does 5G Cause COVID-19?
By Braimoh Bello – 13 April 2020
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, almost all of us have heard and/or read one or two conspiracy theories about the virus. While some of these theories warrant a discussion, others have been outrightly embarrassing. Whatever the case, these theories should be dispelled, or properly positioned, with credible counter knowledge.
A week ago, many were those who raised the banner that COVID-19 was caused by 5G technology. But just one week later, the discussion appears to be shifting from 5G causing COVID-19 to the overall health effects of 5G. In this post, I will address the 5G causation theory for COVID-19, which has been doing the rounds. I will also go a little beyond the controversy of 5G causing COVID-19 into why we should depend on science to document any health effects due to 5G. I share a dozen thoughts that highlight that 5G technology is not the cause of COVID-19.
1. The science is simple
Coronavirus is a virus and 5G is wireless communication technology. A virus is not a transmission and a transmission is not a virus. In microbiology, there are theories, like the Koch’s postulates, that guide scientists and doctors to know whether an infectious agent is the cause of a disease. In epidemiology, there is the Bradford-Hill criteria for assessing the evidence of disease causality. All the doctors in the world cannot be lying about their patients who show similar symptoms. All the laboratory technologists in the world diagnosing the disease have not been bribed or deceived. They use the same principles that have guided the diagnosis of malaria, TB, HIV and other infectious diseases over the years. Why should we not trust them now?
2. Be careful what you share
I have seen conspiracy theories videos on coronavirus made by politicians, celebrities, pastors and laymen. The majority of these people know little about science and medicine and cannot be trusted sources for such information. Suddenly, even those who failed mathematics and cannot calculate their body mass index have opinions on COVID-19 and 5G. Take yourself a bit more seriously and stop believing and sharing everything you read.
3. Get expert advice
If I wanted to invest in real estate in a certain city, I would look for industry experts in that city, including lawyers and estate agents. My pastor’s role would be to pray for me and possibly give me some advice. In the same vein, when it comes to pandemics, please listen to the experts – epidemiologists, doctors and other healthcare workers. I know there is some quackery out there, but most experts agree on most things.
4. Be logical
5G is wireless transmission and as a result, it cannot target a certain group of people, like Black people. If it is harmful, will it not kill everyone? Who exactly wants to kill us with 5G? Where will they be staying after we are dead? I understand that we generally need our IQ to rescue us when logic is needed, but these things are really not rocket science.
5. Correlation is not causation
What has got many people arms in the air is the fact that the rollout of 5G in many cities has coincided with the coronavirus pandemic. An Africa proverb says, “The owl cries at night, a child dies in the morning, our people look at the village witch.”
Someone said, “If COVID-19 is not caused by 5G why are they happening at the same time?” It should be stated clearly that 5G roll-out actually started in many cities long before COVID-19. Besides, we find countless correlations between events around us every day because the world doesn’t stop for one event to end before another starts. But we learn not to rush to conclude that correlation is causation.
6. 5G is non-ionizing
This means that 5G transmission cannot release electrons from the molecules in our body to cause damage. There is a lot of materials on the internet on the millimetre waves frequency that 5G will use and all of this point to the fact that there is no cause for alarm. According to a professor of nuclear physics, “Visible light is a common source of higher-frequency, higher-energy electromagnetic energy than millimetre waves or other mobile phone frequencies.”
However, it is wise to say that biophysical evidence is insufficient. We will need epidemiological studies that document any biological effect due to 5G.
7. Valid health concerns
There are valid concerns about the health effects of 5G. Indeed, people should be concerned. But also, there are many ways scientists can show the health effects of environmental and occupational exposures. These include biophysical analysis, animal studies and epidemiological evidence.
8. 5G and chronic health effects
Any health effects due to 5G will most likely be chronic (long-term) and not acute (immediate or short-term). I have recently seen a video of birds falling down to their death purportedly due to 5G. If 5G had such acute effects, how do we think it was developed? The fact is that 5G has already been installed in many cities and there is clearly no documented acute health effects. We will have to wait for long-term studies evaluating chronic effects.
9. Wait for scientific evidence
We should wait for scientists to find out about the health effects of 5G, with documented scientific evidence. Anything other than that may be conspiracy theory, no matter who it is coming from. One reason people do not believe in science is that they do not know how scientists think and work, and how diverse they are. You cannot bribe or contain all the scientists in the world. Many PhD and M.Sc. students will study this topic.
- It was not conspiracists that showed the world that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, it was doctors and scientists.
- Before many conspiracists knew what the element carbon was, scientists were already writing about the ozone layer and global warming.
- It was not social media conspiracy flames that showed the world that asbestos causes mesothelioma. It was scientists.
- What many people may not know is that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), upon reviewing diverse scientific papers, already categorised radiofrequency transmissions from phones and masts as possibly carcinogenic (Group 2B risk). Firstly, do not be alarmed. This is one of lowest levels of risks. Those who drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or exposed to wood and welding fumes are in category 1 which has higher carcinogenic risk. Secondly, such scientific findings often lead to interventions that reduce the environmental exposure limits and not necessarily the elimination of the technology altogether.
My point is: leave scientists to do their work. Scientists are that detailed, constantly looking for health risks in environmental exposures. Trust them to document any chronic effects of 5G.
10. Conspiracy theory is big business
Some people actually think that the people that write conspiracy theories care about humanity. They would be surprised to know that many conspiracy theorists actually make money from their efforts – from making money from YouTube videos views to writing books and even hacking operating systems. The next time you forward a conspiracy message, you may want to ask yourself whose business you are supporting.
Braimoh Bello is an epidemiologist, a university lecturer and the research technical lead at the Centre for Statistical Analysis and Research (CESAR). You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org