‘Kraken’ Covid-19 subvariant linked to baseless claims about 5G harms

27 January 2023
What was claimed

It’s ironic the name of the new Covid subvariant is ‘Kraken’ a ‘mythical beast that kills on the waves’ as it’s really 5G waves that are harming and killing people.

Our verdict

There is no evidence that 5G technology is harmful to human health. The name ‘Kraken’ was chosen by a Canadian biology professor in an effort to make it easier to distinguish between different subvariants.

A post on Facebook claims that radiation waves from 5G are “harming and killing” people by “emitting radiation”, and links 5G radio waves to the name of the latest subvariant of Covid-19, which has been unofficially dubbed ‘Kraken’

The full post states: “Ironic isn't it that they call the new varient [sic] 'KRAKEN' A mythical beast that kills on the waves. 5G towers are emitting radiaton [sic] waves that are doing this harming and killing people.”

We have written many times before about conspiracy theories that Covid has either been caused by 5G, or is a cover for the alleged harmful “effects” of the technology on the population.

There is no evidence that 5G is hazardous to people’s health. As with previous iterations of the technology— 2G, 3G and 4G— 5G uses radio waves to transmit mobile data. Other types of technology such as smart meters and TVs also use radio waves.

Radio waves are found at the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum and only produce non-ionising radiation, which means they cannot damage the DNA inside cells in the same way as higher-frequency rays (such as x-rays and ultraviolet light).

5G does use a higher frequency than previous versions of the technology, but in the context of electromagnetic radiation as a whole, the levels remain very low. The maximum levels of electromagnetic radiation measured by Ofcom near 5G masts were around 1.5% of the safety limits set in international guidelines

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has previously said: “It is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area. However, the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and, as such, there should be no consequences for public health.”

A kraken is a mythical giant tentacled sea creature, originating in Scandinavian folklore, but there’s no evidence that the most recent strain of Covid-19 was named as such in a deliberate nod to theories that Covid-19 was caused by 5G waves. 

Kraken isn’t the official name for the subvariant—according to reports it was originally given the name by a Canadian biology professor in order to make it easier to distinguish from other subvariants.

The subvariant’s official name is Omicron XBB.1.5. The World Health Organisation has said it is too early to determine the severity of disease caused by the subvariant, but has confirmed that it appears to be more transmissible than other Omicron subvariants. 

The UKHSA’s most recent regular briefing on Covid-19 variants, published on 11 January, says that 161 samples of the new subvariant have been identified in the UK through sequencing so far. 

It’s been estimated that XBB.1.5 currently accounts for half the Covid infections in the US. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has estimated that it could become the dominant strain in Europe in the next few months.

Image courtesy of Zac Gudakov

Update 27 January 2023

We have updated the article to more clearly describe the claim being made.

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