While India continues to battle the second wave of the coronavirus, there are questions raised on the origin of the second wave of the virus. Case in point being, a newspaper clipping that is being widely shared on social media claiming that the testing of 5G towers has caused the second wave of COVID-19 in India. Let us verify the claims made in the post.
Claim 1: Testing of 5G towers has caused the second wave of the coronavirus in India.
Fact: There is no scientific evidence to prove any causation and correlation between testing of 5G towers and spread of COVID-19 in India. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.
The text in the above newspaper clipping claims that the real cause of the second wave in India is the testing of 5G. The claim further explains that the radiation caused by the 5G towers when in contact with air becomes poisonous and is, therefore, the reason for the breathing trouble in people and also proving to be fatal. Further, it is also claimed that the radiation is also the reason for increased thirst and the feeling of the presence of slight current in the air.
What are 5G Towers?
By definition, 5G is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks. 5G cell towers are telecommunications sites that could boost wireless signals by ten times the current speed of 4G. 5G operates in a high-frequency band of the wireless spectrum. They are functionally different from 3G, 4G, LTE towers because the hardware emits higher frequency radio waves that are much shorter in length—they’re essentially harmless. 5G technology is in nascent stages and is yet to be launched in India at full potential. According to this Indian Express article, 5G essentially works in 3 bands- low band spectrum has shown great promise in terms of coverage and speed of internet and data exchange, the maximum speed is limited to 100 Mbps, mid-band spectrum, on the other hand, offers higher speeds compared to the low band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals and high-band spectrum offers the highest speed of all the three bands, but has extremely limited coverage and signal penetration strength.
What are 5G trials/testing?
Three private players including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) have been imploring the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to lay out the clear pathway for 5G trials and it is only on 04 May 2021, that the DoT issued a press release granting permission to these telecom service providers to start 5G trials in different locations across the country including the rural, semi-urban and urban areas. According to the central government, the objectives of conducting 5G trials include: “Testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in the Indian context; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors; testing of indigenous technology; testing of applications (such as telemedicine, tele-education, augmented/ virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring, etc.); and to test 5G phones and devices.”
Therefore, in the given context, it is obvious that there were no 5G trials happening in India during February, 2021 when India was at the beginning of the second wave of COVID-19. Also, there is no scientific evidence to prove that the radiation due to 5G technology can cause COVID-19 cases or deaths.
In fact, the WHO has also confirmed that ‘viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks’. Therefore, it is definite that 5G technology or its radiation has not caused the second wave in India. Also, the claim is not specific to India but similar conspiracy theories regarding 5G technology were seen in Brussels, Australia, and Switzerland with real-time consequences. The same claim has been debunked multiple times and can be accessed here, here, here, and here.
Claim 2: Birds in India dying due to 4G technology radiation.
Fact: There is no scientific evidence to back that 4G technology led to the death of these birds in India. Therefore, the claim made in the post in FALSE.
In January 2021, Factly had published a fact-check on the claim that birds in India are dying due to 5G technology testing by Jio. In fact, the Press Information Bureau has reported about the outbreaks of Avian Influenza/Bird flu in migratory birds, wild and domestic crows, and poultry in certain States of the country. In the same press release, it can be read that the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during the winter months i.e. from September – October to February – March. As mentioned above, the permission for 5G testing in India has only been approved on 04 May 2021. Therefore, it is clear from the fact-check that there is no scientific evidence or correlation between 4G/5G technology and the death of the birds. A similar claim has been debunked in the Netherlands which had falsely attributed the death of over 297 birds in 2018 to the testing of 5G masts. The same can be accessed here and here.
In summary, neither is the second wave of COVID-19 in India is due to the 5G tower testing (or its radiation) nor have the birds died due to 4G technology. Both the claims mentioned are false.