The claim: “Coronavirus Hoax: Fake Virus Pandemic Fabricated to Cover-Up Global Outbreak of 5G Syndrome.” — headline on an article being widely shared on Facebook.
PolitiFact ruling: False. World experts say the virus originated in an animal — perhaps in a bat that transmitted the virus to another animal, and then to humans.
Discussion: Tentacles of lightning illuminate a stormy sky. Three people wear medical face masks, worry visible in their eyes. Next to those two images is one more that reads simply “5G” — a reference to the fifth-generation of wireless networking technology.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.
Please strike this claim from your list of things to worry about: This is just one more coronavirus assertion without evidence. As has been widely reported, the best available information is that this virus started with an animal.
The article appears on the Millennium Report, an anti-5G website that includes a section on the rollout of 5G, which “greatly endangers” the health of “every person in the USA.”
The article cites no verifiable evidence of this claim. Instead, it alleges that the coronavirus discovered in Wuhan, China, was “staged to cover-up the public health crisis caused by the intensive 5G roll-out in Wuhan in 2019.” It attributes the information to an unnamed “intelligence analyst and former U.S. Army officer.”
5G is the latest upgrade to wireless systems that deliver data to mobile phones and other devices. As in, faster, faster, faster. It involves the federal government selling wireless spectrum used for the technology and more cell towers being located in populated rather than rural areas.
Is there reason to worry about possible health effects? Perhaps.
Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, supports a moratorium on 5G development. He wrote in Scientific American that there could be health effects and that research needs to be funded.
But other reports say fears are overblown, and there is no evidence that the coronavirus has anything to do with wireless technology.
The current coronavirus — which causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19 — “is a zoonotic virus.” That is, it was spread from animals to humans, according to a report from 25 international experts, including some from China and the U.S., convened by the World Health Organization.
Bats “appear to be the reservoir of COVID-19 virus,” but the intermediate host or hosts — that is, how it went from bats to humans — has not been identified.
PolitiFact is a fact-checking project to help you sort out fact from fiction in politics. Truth-O-Meter ratings are determined by a panel of three editors. The burden of proof is on the speaker, and PolitiFact rates statements based on the information known at the time the statement is made.
Such viruses often originate in bats, although they sometimes can jump to another species before infecting humans. Chinese researchers have found a possible link between COVID-19 and pangolins, a mammal entirely covered in scales.
Early on, many of the patients in Wuhan had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread.