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The dangerous conspiracy theory linking 5G to Covid-19

On the left, Dr Thomas Cowan, who is currently on probation, in a screengrab of his lecture which drew a link between 5G and coronavirus. On the right, a burning mobile phone mast in the UK.
On the left, Dr Thomas Cowan, who is currently on probation, in a screengrab of his lecture which drew a link between 5G and coronavirus. On the right, a burning mobile phone mast in the UK.

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A conspiracy theory claiming that 5G mobile networks are the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic has gained traction online and offline in recent weeks. The baseless claim has caught on around the world, but is causing particular harm in the UK, where telecoms engineers at work have been harassed and mobile phone masts have been vandalised or set on fire – putting vital communications infrastructure at risk during a health crisis.

Hundreds of Facebook groups and Instagram accounts promoting the conspiracy theory have sprung up in recent weeks and gained broad attention. The false theory also received a boost from celebrities like actor Woody Harrelson and singers M.I.A and Keri Hilson, who shared posts with the false information to their thousands of followers.

There are different versions of the theory. One version posits that 5G electromagnetic waves poison the body's cells, creating the virus (this theory therefore claims that the virus is not transmitted from person to person). Another false claim seen online is that 5G waves emit radiation, which weakens the immune system and makes people more susceptible to infection. A further theory states that viruses can 'travel' on radio waves or mobile networks, and so that is why the virus is spreading so rapidly worldwide.

None of these theories have any basis in fact. Medical professionals, scientists, virologists and biologists have all dismissed the claims as nonsense.  

The World Health Organisation has said that extensive research has shown that there are no adverse health effects resulting from 'exposure to wireless technologies'.

The FRANCE 24 Observers team looked into this conspiracy theory and found out more about one of the people who helped make it popular. Watch our video below to find out why linking 5G to Covid-19 is not just ordinary fake news: it's a dangerous theory that could be thwarting attempts to tackle the virus.

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