In May 2020, a video emerged and circulated widely on social media that supposedly shows a person revealing the shocking discovery that the word “COV-19” was inscribed on a piece of 5G equipment:
But the piece of equipment featured in this video did not come from a 5G tower. This is actually a circuit board from an old set-top television box. The word “COV-19” is also inauthentic.
The above-displayed video deals with a widespread (and repeatedly debunked) conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 coronavirus disease was being spread by 5G cellular towers. This is not true.
This conspiracy theory is a blend of two other false notions about mobile technology and the COVID-19 global pandemic. First, some people have been expressing concern over the impact of mobile technology on human health for years. These concerns are largely overblown, however, as research from such entities as the World Health Organization has shown that “no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.” Second, a number of conspiracy theories concerning the origins of COVID-19 have been floated since the beginning of the pandemic, including the far-fetched idea that the disease was a “bio-weapon.” This, again, is not true.
At some point, conspiracy theorists started to tap into general fears about mobile technology in order to spread unfounded rumors about the spread of COVID-19. The man in this video claims he is not an adherent of these conspiracy theories, but mentions that he also can’t explain why “COV-19” was written on a piece of 5G equipment.
“I don’t really know any product by any company that produces circuitry like this that has the brand name COV-19, but that’s what it says on the fucking circuit board. I’m not a fucking conspiracy theorist, but obviously I’ve read all that stuff online about coronavirus and COVID-19, but why the fuck are they putting circuitry like that in towers like that?”
But this piece of equipment was not taken from a 5G tower, and the word “COV-19” was likely added to this circuit board in an attempt to falsify “evidence” for this conspiracy theory.
While this video never provides a truly clear glimpse of this piece of equipment, we were able to glean some details by taking screenshots from the video. At one point, for instance, the name of the company that actually manufactured this device (Hannstar) can be seen:
Hannstar does not manufacture 5G equipment. Hannstar is a Taiwan-based company that makes television parts and computer monitors. We reached out to Hannstar for help identifying this specific piece of equipment and will update this article if more information becomes available.
Reuters reported that this circuit board was taken from an old Virgin Media box for cable television. A spokesperson for Virgin Media confirmed to the news outlet where this circuit board came from, saying:
“That is a board from a very old set top TV box and which never featured any component parts inscribed/stamped/printed or otherwise with COV 19. It has absolutely no relation with any mobile network infrastructure, including that used for 5G.”
In addition to the word “Hannstar” being visible on this device and a Virgin Media spokesperson identifying this item as an old TV circuit board, this board also features ports related to television, not mobile technology, such as a SCART plug, a 21-pin connector for connecting pieces of audio-visual equipment:
In sum, this video does not show “COV-19” inscribed on a piece of 5G equipment but rather a person holding an old circuit board for a television that had “COV-19” added to it. That is why this claim is rated “False.”