The 13 Most Outrageous Covid-19 Myths and Misconceptions

No, viruses can’t travel on 5G networks, and herd immunity is not a good option

Robert Roy Britt
Elemental
Published in
9 min readAug 31, 2020

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A 5G base station in Hefei, Anhui Province of China. Photo: VCG/Getty Images

Only a highly politicized, historically deadly pandemic could generate this number of outlandish and sometimes deadly myths, conspiracies, hoaxes, and misconceptions. There are so many false Covid-19 claims floating around — more than 2,000, according to a recent study — that even the sharpest minds can be excused for a little coronavirus confusion amid this great global infodemic, fueled by hucksters and pranksters and facilitated by social media.

“The stuff that gets shared by people makes people walk away thinking this is no big deal, that the virus is as trivial, and most people do fine, and for 99% of people it’s harmless,” says Ashish Jha, MD, a practicing internist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

While some of the fabrications might do little more than make your head spin, others are downright dangerous, and collectively, they fuel distrust in science, in media, and in the governments and institutions that are, or at least should be, trying to protect public health.

Here’s a reality check on a dozen or so of the more inaccurate, outrageous, and sometimes dangerous Covid-19 falsehoods.

1. The coronavirus spreads on 5G networks

This would be fascinating were it true… or even possible! Star Trek fans would recognize the stunning breakthrough as the first instance of biological teleportation. The myth, spread in part by a handful of celebrities, holds that cell towers broadcast Covid-19 over 5G frequencies or that the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by 5G smartphones somehow cause the disease or make it worse. For the record, 5G is nothing more than radio waves at higher frequencies than 4G.

“EMF exposure from 5G devices does not cause Covid-19, nor does it have any effect on the disease process or health outcomes of those who are infected by the new coronavirus,” states the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection.

The Mayo Clinic puts it bluntly: “Viruses can’t travel on radio waves.” (Well, some viruses can, but they’re not the biological…

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Robert Roy Britt
Elemental

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB