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Maps do not show link between coronavirus and 5G wireless

April 8, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Maps show a correlation between confirmed COVID-19 cases and where 5G wireless service has been installed. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There’s no evidence that 5G, fifth generation wireless is related to or causes COVID-19. Both maps simply highlight densely populated parts of the U.S. 

THE FACTS: Photos of the two maps placed side by side are being used on social media posts to suggest they show a correlation between 5G networks and coronavirus hot spots. One map claims to show where confirmed coronavirus cases are located in the U.S., while the other map claims to show where 5G technology was installed. Both are highlighted around population centers.

“Im just gonna leave this right here... For those folks that still dont see whats really going on,” one Facebook post claimed. 

For months, conspiracy theories have circulated attempting to link the rise in coronavirus cases to 5G networks. The bogus claim gained fresh attention on social media when China rolled out 5G wireless around the time that coronavirus cases spiked in the country.

Then, in early April, numerous cell towers in the U.K. were set on fire after false conspiracy theories circulated linking the coronavirus to 5G networks.

“As we see it, there is absolutely no connection between COVID-19 and the 5G cellular service,” Prof. Myrtill Simkó told the AP. Simkó is the scientific director of SciProof International in Sweden, and author of a report examining 5G wireless communication and health effects. 

Experts studying or working on the rollout of 5G service said the map used in the Facebook post showing service availability does not provide an accurate picture of what’s happening with 5G expansion.  

For example, T-Mobile has 5G coverage wider than what is shown on the map used in the Facebook post. And Ookla, a company that provides fixed broadband and mobile network testing applications, also has a map that shows 5G service in the U.S. extending beyond what is depicted by the post. 

“Telecom providers tend to roll out new technologies (not just 5G) in urban areas where the most people can experience the new technology the quickest. That’s why some people see a seeming correlation between 5G availability and urban populations where COVID-19 epicenters have been identified,” a representative with Ookla told the AP. 

Beyond such comparisons, there is other evidence to refute the link. South Korea was the first to launch 5G wireless in April 2019, months before COVID-19 cases were announced in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. On the flip side, Japan didn’t launch 5G until March, yet the country reported its first coronavirus infection in January. 

The World Health Organization states on their site that 5G wireless does not pose health risks. “To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.” 

The International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)is a Germany-based scientific organization that issues exposure guidelines on electromagnetic fields. The website states that “5G exposures will not cause any harm providing that they adhere to the ICNIRP (2020) guidelines.” 


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: