One of the best-known conspiracy theories associated with the coronavirus pandemic holds that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been able to spread more quickly via the new 5G mobile telecommunications standard. Yet long before the crisis, researchers were investigating the effect of electromagnetic fields on the immune system – and there’s no reason to panic.
Fear is proliferating in the United Kingdom: base stations are burning and the social networks are aflame. Why? Because 5G is said to be contributing to the spread of the coronavirus. The panic is not restricted to British critics of 5G: in the Netherlands, unknown individuals are scratching the words “Fuck 5G” on walls. They share the suspicion that 5G damages cells, rendering people defenceless against COVID-19. Meanwhile, others claim the virus is a cover-up designed to distract from the health damage caused by 5G.
A widespread myth during the coronavirus pandemic even suggests that the virus spreads faster via mobile networks. To some people, the fact that the first deaths in Wuhan coincided with the launch of the 5G mobile telecommunications standard in China counts as proof of this thesis. A further factor seen as proof is the belief that Africa hasn’t had any coronavirus deaths because no 5G networks have been built there yet – a claim that has long been overtaken by reality.
There is no credible indication, and certainly no scientific proof, of any potential link between 5G and the spread of the coronavirus. This was confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) back in April 2020: viruses are not capable of travelling via radio waves or mobile networks. Equally, COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that have no 5G mobile networks.
Radio frequency electromagnetic fields neither cause the virus nor spread it. They also do not increase the health risk to those already infected with SARS-CoV-2. What we know about electromagnetic fields disproves all these suspicions.
The fear of mobile communications as an “immunity killer” is nothing new. People have been worrying that radio frequency electromagnetic fields might weaken the immune system, thereby making it easier for infectious diseases to take hold, for a long time. It’s in fact not that simple: the immune system is a highly complex network made up of cells, tissue and organs. The substances produced in this system help the human body fight off infectious diseases triggered by microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria.
Scientists have produced a whole range of studies investigating the effect of electromagnetic fields on the immune system, including one within the framework of the German Mobile Telecommunication Research Programme and a series of studies on rodents in France and Italy. A large number of studies showed that radio frequency electromagnetic fields are capable of raising body temperature briefly and in a localised manner during phone calls made with a mobile. Science does not consider this problematic, since body temperature can vary to a significantly greater degree during the course of a normal day or during sporting activities.
Apart from the generation of heat, tests have so far been unable to find proof of any other effects. There is no scientific proof that electromagnetic fields have any effect on the immune system and its functions. It is not weakened or permanently altered in such a way as to create short- or long-term health consequences. In the context of the expansion of the new 5G mobile network, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety is planning further studies. These will also investigate the effects of the higher 5G frequencies planned for the future upon the immune system. The fact of such studies being carried out does not, however, constitute some kind of advance proof that a given technology is dangerous. All it means is that German state authorities view the tasks they carry out to protect the population as a serious and ongoing commitment.
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