Videos are shared on social networking displaying mobile phone masts on fire in Birmingham and Merseyside – and the claims.
The posts are shared on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram – including by confirmed accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers.
But scientists say the thought of a link between COVID-19 and 5G is”complete rubbish” and biologically impossible.
The conspiracy theories are branded”the worst sort of fake news” by NHS England Medical Director Stephen Powis.
A lot of those sharing the article is pushing a conspiracy theory falsely asserting that 5G – that is used in cell phone networks and depends on signs carried by radio waves – is responsible for coronavirus.
These theories seem to have emerged via Facebook articles in late January, around the same time the first cases were recorded in America.
They Seem to fall widely into two camps:
One asserts 5G can suppress the immune system, thus making people more vulnerable to catching the virus.
Another suggests the virus could somehow be transmitted through the use of 5G technology.
These two ideas are”complete garbage,” says Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading.
“The concept that 5G lowers your immune system does not stand up to scrutiny,” Dr Clarke says.
“Your immune system may be dipped by all kinds of thing – by being tired one day, or not having a great diet. Those fluctuations are not huge but can make you more vulnerable to catching viruses”
While very powerful radio waves can lead to heating, 5G is nowhere near powerful enough to heat people up enough to have any meaningful effect.
“Radio waves can interrupt your physiology as they heat up you, meaning that your immune system can not function. However, [the energy levels from] 5G radio waves are tiny and they’re nowhere near powerful enough to impact the immune system. There has been plenty of research on this.”
The radio waves involved with 5G and other cellular phone technology sit on the low frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Stronger than visible light, they’re not powerful enough to harm cells – unlike radiation in the higher frequency end of the spectrum that contains the sun’s rays and medical x-rays.
It would also be impossible for 5G to transmit the virus, Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, adds.
“The current epidemic is caused by a virus that’s passed from one infected individual to another. We all know this is true. We have the virus growing in our laboratory, acquired from a person who has the illness. Viruses and electromagnetic waves which produce cell phones and internet connections operate are different things. As different as chalk and cheese,” he says.
Additionally, it is important to notice another significant flaw with all the conspiracy theories – coronavirus is spreading in UK cities where 5G has not yet been deployed, and in nations such as Iran that have yet to roll out the technology.
There were lots of scare stories about 5G circulating before the coronavirus outbreak that Reality Check has already looked into, like this piece: Can 5G pose health risks?
Earlier this year, a long-running study in the watchdog the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) rebutted these claims, stating there was no evidence that cellular networks cause cancer or other disorders.
However, if anything, the misinformation appears to have escalated.
Trade body Mobile UK has stated false rumours and theories linking 5G and coronavirus have been”about,” while the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has reiterated there’s”absolutely no credible evidence for the connection”.
Viruses invade human or animal cells and use them to replicate, and that’s what causes the infection. Viruses can’t live long outside a living thing, so they need to discover a means in – typically via droplets of liquid from coughs or sneezes.
Genome sequencing of the coronavirus indicates it jumped from animals to people – and then started to pass from human to human.