Aussies’ shocking virus beliefs
Long before COVID-19 spread across the globe, the 5G wireless network was at the heart of conspiracy theories regarding our health.
In January, Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy stressed that the technology was safe and used low-powered radio waves "different to ionising radiation associated with nuclear energy or use in medicine".
"The radio waves to which the general public is exposed from telecommunications are not hazardous to human health," he said.
But a new poll has revealed one in eight Aussies aren't buying it, instead believing the 5G network is being used to spread COVID-19.
The same number of people (12 per cent) believe the coronavirus is not dangerous and is being used to force people to get vaccines, while 12 per cent think Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates "played a role" in its creation and spread.
Gates and his wife have pledged more than $200 million to fight coronavirus but have been popular targets for anti-vaccination voices. He has been portrayed as a profiteer from a virus vaccine while also being blamed at US protests and in the viral "Plandemic" film.
The conspiracy theory figures were revealed in an Essential poll of 1073 Australians, released on Tuesday.
Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher addressed the "misinformation" on Tuesday.
"Any suggestions that there is a link between 5G and coronavirus are utterly baseless," he said in a statement.
"As the Chief Medical Officer has said, 5G does not cause the coronavirus and it does not spread coronavirus."
He labelled the spread of such claims to be irresponsible, dangerous and potentially harmful to the community.
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Mr Fletcher noted there had been recent arson attacks on mobile phone towers in the UK and New Zealand.
"Interfering or tampering with telecommunications facilities is a criminal offence," he said.
"Causing damage to mobile phone networks can cut vital connectivity, risking serious harm, even death, if a person is unable to contact triple-0."
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency recently addressed concerns from "some members of the public" about the immune system and whether it can be compromised by sources such as 5G.
"The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the human body fight infectious disease caused by invading microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria," it said in April.
"A number of studies have investigated whether exposure to radio waves can affect the immune system. Some studies have shown that exposure to high power radio waves, much greater than the limits of the ARPANSA safety standard, increases the core body temperature, which can cause temporary effects on the immune system.
"Studies have also investigated whether low level radio wave exposure from telecommunications sources like 5G can impact the immune system.
"Such studies, including those that have investigated effects on antigens, antibodies and oxidative stress, have not provided evidence of changes in immune function."
In addition to the above theories, the poll found one in five people believe the media and government are exaggerating the COVID-19 death toll "to scare the population", however 71 per cent dismissed this claim.
Two in five think the virus was engineered and released from a Chinese laboratory in the original epicentre Wuhan, which the Prime Minister has repeatedly said there is no evidence to support.
The same number of people, 39 per cent, said they believed this to be false.
"There's nothing that we have that would indicate that was the likely source," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier this month.
More than three-quarters of respondents (77 per cent) said the outbreak in China was "actually much worse" than reported in official statistics from Beijing.
THE ESSENTIAL POLL THEORIES AND RESULTS
Originally published as Aussies' shocking virus beliefs