How 5G networks are not dangerous, and do not cause COVID-19

05-10-2020 | By Sam Brown

The next generation of cellular communication, 5G, will provide high-speed low-latency networks that will help to improve technologies further globally. However, some believe that 5G cellular networks are dangerous to human health, and some even believe that they are the cause of COVID. Learn how this is far from the truth!

What is 5G?

5G is the next generation of cellular networks that will enable for higher speeds, lower latency, and increase device count. While many changes have been introduced, some of the most dramatic changes include the use higher radio frequencies (up to 28GHz as opposed to 2.5GHz in 4G), and beam-forming whereby MIMO antenna can create communication beams to specific devices to reduce interference with other devices while increasing overall speed. As IoT devices increase in number and future cars will have constant connections to the internet for AI and other remote data purposes, the number of connected devices will be far too great for traditional 4G networks. 5G networks can handle up to one million devices, whereas 4G can only handle up to 4000 (per square kilometre).

Correlation vs Causation

Statistics is a critical mathematical concept that has helped shaped the modern world as we know it. The ability to tabulate data, compare it to other sources, and draw conclusions allows for patterns to be more easily determined, and thus make determinations as to how one set of data relates to another set of data. However, of all science and mathematics, statistics is arguably the one that causes the most arguments, confusion, and is often used incorrectly or maliciously in order to try and prove a relation that may not exist at all.

The most classic example of how statistics can be used to confuse and manipulate is the comparison between ice cream consumption and outdoor temperature. During the summer months, the outdoor temperature increases, as does the increase in consumption of ice cream. Thus, it is possible to conclude that the consumption of ice cream increases the outdoor temperature. However, in reality, ice cream is consumed as a result of temperature increase, and this is only made apparent when other data is taken into account. 

The theory – 5G causes COVID

When COVID began to spread worldwide, a theory arose from the strangest parts of the human mind that suggested 5G networks spread COVID. While this may sound daft when said out loud, there is indeed evidence to support this theory. Areas that saw sudden increases of COVID cases were also areas that had 5G networks, and countries that had yet to install 5G networks saw very few cases.

However, just like the ice cream fallacy, the data set for 5G locations and COVID cases are correlated, but not as a result of causation. Areas which had been establishing 5G networks are often the more prosperous and densely populated regions because when installing new cellular technology, it is only economical to do so where it will be mostly used. Therefore, dense city regions were the first areas to have 5G support. 

Prosperous areas are also often more likely to experience large amounts of human traffic (such as New York) as a result of tourism and business. Such individuals will come from all areas of the world, and therefore can bring infections with them, and back home. Considering that the ability of a virus to spread depends on the population density, and the ability to travel around, international cities often carry the highest risk of infection. 

The result is that dense, affluent cities, who were installing 5G networks at the time, were also the most at risk from COVID. Thus, COVID cases increased exponentially in areas that had 5G and therefore appeared that 5G was the cause of COVID. 

How 5G cellular signals are not harmful

Another theory that often floats around the internet is that radio signals from cellular networks are harmful and can cause cancer. While the exact reason this theory has arisen is not entirely apparent, but on closer examination, it may have something to do with the concept of radio signals being emitted from a transmitter next to the brain (one example of proof for this is the large number of individuals who either use hands-free headsets, hold phones in front of them, and use earpieces with attached microphones when unnecessary).

In order to disprove the theory that EM radiation below UV can cause cancer, we first need to understand why EM radiation at such high frequency causes cancer. Cancer, the ability for damaged cells to rapidly grow and cause complications, are the result of damaged DNA. In order to damage DNA, it needs to be physically attacked and one method of achieving this is the use of ionising radiation as it can remove electrons from atoms (i.e. ionise them). 

In order for a photon to remove an electron from an atom, it needs to contain a minimum amount of energy. If a photo does not have this energy, it will instead heat the atom, but this will not cause ionisation. As it turns out, the minimum energy needed to ionise common elements in biology (such as carbon, oxygen, and phosphorus), results in UV photons, and thus photons whose wavelength is greater than UV (visible light, infrared, and radio), do not have the energy needed to ionise atoms. Therefore, radio waves found in cellular networks (such as 5G) lack the energy to cause ionisation, and thus cannot damage DNA. 


5G is a network technology that will revolutionise global networks and will allow for millions of device to communicate with ease. While there are odd theories that try to link 5G to COVID or cancer, the same could easily be done for many other statistical correlations such as how water is responsible for all deaths (all those who have ever drunk water have died), how the ownership of cars increases life span, and how population growth has lead to moon moving further away from the Earth. 

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By Sam Brown