5G and Coronavirus: Examining The Uninformed Debate

5G and Coronavirus:  Examining The Uninformed Debate

A friend recently drew my attention to a Whatsapp audio making the round claiming that 5G is responsible for the coronavirus. The author of the audio claimed that the higher frequencies (mm-waves) proposed for use in 5G networks causes cell poisoning, when in contact with the body. The effect of the radiation on the body leads to toxic cells, which is then expunged out of the body (nose, mouth etc.), in the form of the virus, called ‘coronavirus’, claimed the author. 

As a researcher, who had studied 5G, electromagnetic radiation from 5G networks as well as the health impact, my friend wanted me to share my perspective and take on the authenticity of the claims made by the author of the Whatsapp audio.

In the past, I had addressed some of these claims; here, I would try to summarize some of the key points here again. 

Permit me to first say that, in my study of electromagnetic radiation from 5G networks, I did not find any evidence suggesting that electromagnetic radiation from 5G networks causes cell poisoning. 

Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have endorsed the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) to develop the international electromagnetic radiation exposure guidelines. These guidelines define frequency-dependent maximum permitted levels of exposure for parts of or the whole body from any number or type of EMF-emitting devices, including mobile phones and base stations. These guidelines define the maximum exposure (both for near field and far field) for people exposed to electromagnetic radiation up to 300 GHz; these guidelines are strictly adhered to by member countries, when deploying base station antennas.

The speculation is solely based on the fact that 5G requires the use of higher frequencies (termed mm waves) for propagation. At such higher frequencies, the waves do not propagate long distances, as such one way of dealing with this is to situate base stations closer to the user, in the form of small antenna cells located indoors or in public areas/hotspots. Another way to deal with the short distance propagation at higher frequencies is to combine a large number of antennas to increase the signal reception. This obviously mean that the users begin to observe a large number of antennas, situated suddenly close to them. And when base stations are situated closer to the user, the public perception of electromagnetic radiation causing harm simply increases. These claims may however be untrue, but should be scientifically investigated. I always support scientific investigation and I’m sure there is research evaluating the impact of downlink electromagnetic radiation of 5G networks.

Ironically, what most mobile phone users do not realise is that the radiation they experience when using their mobile phones (uplink) is significantly higher and more dangerous than the downlink because the antennas are closer to the body (or head). In fact, most biological or health studies of electromagnetic radiation tend to focus on the impact of the radiation on the head, rather than on cells expunging toxins or respiratory systems (as in the case of the coronavirus). The rate of absorption of energy is higher in the near field.

The good news is that the development of new technologies also means the development of new ways of mitigating electromagnetic radiation.  The use of adaptive beam-forming technique to re-direct radiation away from the user has often been touted as a potential advantage of 5G technologies. This is because research is ongoing, looking at the design of 5G phones/ base station antennas which would allow the radiation signal to bypass the users whilst connecting the user to the station with maximum reception (best quality of service).

To end, usually when a person is exposed to radiation above the ICNIRP threshold, the obvious sign is usually an increase in body temperature. The signs are not cough, breathing problems, respiratory conditions, cold, sneezing etc. As a matter of fact, they don’t contaminate others by touching, sneezing or through no symptoms at all. 

Like I earlier said, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that 5G is the cause of the coronavirus. Please let’s take note of the information we pass on to one another and let’s stay safe.

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