FACT CHECK: Did The Introduction Of 3G, 4G And 5G Coincide With Outbreaks Of SARS, Swine Flu and COVID-19?

Jonathan Fonti | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims the introduction of 3G, 4G and 5G networks coincided with outbreaks of SARS, swine flu and the new coronavirus.

Verdict: False

The timelines in the image appear to be largely inaccurate and leave out important context. There is no evidence of a causal link between the introduction of wireless technology and the listed disease outbreaks.

Fact Check:

Social media users have shared a dubious theory that the introduction of various wireless networks coincided with disease outbreaks, linking 3G to SARS in 2003, 4G to swine flu in 2009 and 5G to the new coronavirus in 2020. One such post then says, “I dare anyone tell me this is a coincidence.”

But the timelines appear to be largely inaccurate, and the World Health Organization (WHO) states that there is no evidence of a causal link between wireless networks and such disease outbreaks. (RELATED: Viral Video Claims To Show People In China Tearing Down A 5G Pole To Stop COVID-19

3G networks were first introduced to the world in Japan in October 2001, BBC News reported. SARS didn’t emerge for roughly another year, when it was first reported in the Guangdong province of China in November 2002, according to the WHO. China commercially rolled out 3G networks some five years after the WHO declared the worldwide outbreak contained.

Swine flu (H1N1) first emerged in the U.S. in April 2009, well before 4G networks were in widespread use in the country, and later became a pandemic, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s timeline. 4G first launched commercially in Stockholm, Sweden, and Oslo, Norway, in December 2009, but only 36 cities in the U.S. had 4G capacity via Sprint Mobile by June 2010, according to Wired magazine.

The year listed for the introduction of 5G networks and the outbreak of the new coronavirus isn’t accurate. Countries such as South Korea and the U.S. led the gradual roll out of 5G networks in early 2019, months before the coronavirus first emerged. China, which rolled out 5G in late October 2019, didn’t report the first cases of new coronavirus to the WHO until late December, and the U.S. and South Korea saw its first cases in January 2020, according to The New York Times.

The WHO states on its website that “no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies” to date.

“Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks,” the WHO also states on its website. “COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose.”

With a lack of evidence establishing a link between wireless technology and the disease outbreaks, we rate this claim false.

Jonathan Fonti

Fact Check Reporter
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