CLAIM: As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through the world, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) have been on their toes, fighting unfounded claims over its origin, spread among many others.
An example of such claims and conspiracy theory which has gained traction online is a possible link between the new 5G network and Coronavirus (COVID 19).
Facebook users across the world have continued to share posts claiming that the 5G network and not the coronavirus, is making people sick with many dying from its effect.
In Nigeria, a former senator who represented Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye, claimed that his research shows that the novel virus is not the world’s biggest problem.
Melaye in a Facebook post on Saturday, April 4, 2020, said: “From my research, this coronavirus is not the problem. The major problem is this 5G that has been delayed.”
The former lawmaker has since shared other post to prove his claims including a press release from mobile service provider MTN Nigeria announcing its trial of 5G network in Nigeria.
Similarly, Nigeria’s former Minister for Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode and General Overseer of the Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris have joined the train of prominent Nigerians who have spoken publicly. Both Fani-Kayode and Pastor Chris linked the 5G network to Coronavirus, a conspiracy they referred to the coming of the New World Order.
Also, between March 23 and April 4, 2020, dozens of voice notes with various claims from conspiracy theories and unverified facts have circulated on WhatsApp and other platforms.
5G does not cause COVID-19. There are two types of 5G: “sub-6 GHz”, whose wavelengths are under 6 GHz, and “millimeter wave”, whose frequencies are above 24 GHz. The sub-6 GHz signals are not exclusive to 5G; 4G networks, Wi-Fi and microwaves all operate using sub-6 GHz signals.
Conspiracy theorists point to the launch of 5G networks around the same time as the discovery of the first case in China as proof of the relationship. However, the 5G China installed is the sub-6 GHz type. In other words, your microwave hasn’t given you coronavirus in all your years of use, neither will 5G networks.
In fact, we shouldn’t expect any deleterious effects of 5G on health. In a statement on its website, the WHO said:
“To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technolgies.”
It also said it would continue to review research in this area and that a health risk assessment of all radiofrequency ranges will be published in 2022.
The WHO noted that
According to the international organisation, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye)as this frequency increases.
It added that: “Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.”
Concerning the spread of the novel COVID-19, the WHO and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) have maintained the virus might have been contracted from animals before its person-to-person spread.
In a quick reaction to the widespread rumour and concerns raised by many Nigerians, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, in a press statement on April 4, 2020, said no licence has been issued for 5G in Nigeria.
Pantami said a three-month study trial had commenced on the new 5G network on November 25, 2019, to critically review and study the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria.
He said: “As part of the study trial process, I directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that a team of experts, security agencies and other stakeholders fully participate in the trial process and my office also invited these agencies to participate in the trial and the trial process has been concluded and the study and reporting process is currently ongoing.’’
There is no scientific connection between the introduction or installation of 5G network and the Coronavirus pandemic.
Furthermore, not one Nigerian network provider is transmitting on the 5G network as the government is yet to issue a licence to any of them to do so.
CDD urges the general public to be wary of influential persons peddling such unfounded conspiracy theories.