5G and the coronavirus: the one myth we’ve all heard of

5G does not cause the coronavirus. But how exactly does 5G work?

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The spread of disinformation online is one of the major challenges our society faces today. 📷 European Union, 2020

Fact 1. There is no link between 5G and coronavirus.

Many noticed that Wuhan was very advanced on 5G rollout, and suspected a possible link with the outbreak of coronavirus in that region. But coronavirus has spread also in many countries that do not have 5G installations. Claims that the novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan due to China’s 5G network are unfounded and dangerous. That is why the EU institutions, countries, and many online platforms are actively identifying and fighting the spread of conspiracy theory content that links the coronavirus to 5G networks. The EU-funded SOMA project and its network of fact-checkers have been working to debunk these claims.

Fact 2. EU has the most protective exposure limits — 50 times lower than the health effect threshold.

For the EU, citizens’ health comes first. The EU has strict and conservative recommendations protecting its citizens. As far as exposure from wireless devices, the EU has put exposure for the public at a limit which is at least 50 times lower than what international scientific evidence, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suggests can have any effect on health. The EU sets these limits according to international standards and guidelines published by ICNIRP, the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection. Since the use of the first generation of wireless technology, the EU has continuously been working on assessing safety limits. ICNRIP updated their guidelines in March 2020 and found that current limits were appropriate for 5G. The EU is in the process of assessing these new guidelines. It is important to note that 5G networks will use small cells with lower power levels and therefore lower and more evenly distributed exposure levels than the existing large antennas in 4G networks.

Fact 3. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks.

5G is the 5th generation of mobile networks designed to meet society’s increased data and connectivity demands at greater speeds. It is currently rolled out in several countries around the globe. 5G will transform our economy and society. It will make new services possible in healthcare, energy, transport or education.

Fact 4. Complex problems require serious solutions.

We should be careful not to get carried away by rumours about coronavirus and 5G. These ideas have existed before — there are examples of conspiracy theories regarding 5G (and 2G, 3G and 4G) which were around long before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. But even if our concerns are understandable, we should not rely on an overly simple and straightforward answer to a complex scientific question. Blaming 5G for the outbreak and spreading coronavirus takes awareness away from the real struggle we are all facing, but it could also impede access to more stable, reliable connectivity, which has been holding us together in times when we need it most.

Official Medium account of @EU_Commission | Stories, posts & articles about our work. Our social media policy: https://ec.europa.eu/info/social-media-use

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