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Sofia Ahmed
By Sofia Ahmed February 14, 2024

No, radiation poisoning does not cause COVID-19

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COVID-19 is a viral infection spread through contact with an infected person. It is not caused by radiation poisoning, as one social media post claimed.

An Instagram video shows a person talking about illnesses’ root causes. The video‘s background shows a graphic that says COVID-19’s "root cause" is radiation poisoning. 

"2020," the man says in the video. "Remember that whole thing? Radiation poisoning. Loss of smell, loss of taste, loss of hair, nausea, symptoms of radio wave sickness."

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV–2 coronavirus according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It is spread through close contact with an infected person when small respiratory particles are passed between people, the World Health Organization says. The CDC says people can sometimes contract COVID-19 through droplets on contaminated surfaces that they touch. 

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The first four cases of COVID-19 were reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, when a local hospital identified "pneumonia of an unknown etiology." In January 2020, COVID-19’s complete viral genetic sequence was released to some public health organizations, the CDC Museum COVID-19 Timeline shows

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection issued a statement in 2020 that electromagnetic field exposure "does not cause COVID-19, nor does it have any effect on the disease process or health outcomes of those who are infected by the new corona virus."

In 2021, we rated False a claim that connected radiation from wireless technologies with COVID-19. That post referred to a research paper, but the paper’s authors wrote that "none of the observations discussed here prove this linkage." 

According to the Mayo Clinic, exposure to a high dose of radiation causes radiation poisoning. It is rare and most cases occurred after nuclear industrial accidents such as the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Radiation poisoning symptoms include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, fever, diarrhea, headache, weakness and fatigue. 

The CDC lists COVID-19’s symptoms as fatigue, fever, diarrhea, headache, nausea or vomiting, new loss of taste or smell and sore throat.

Although some COVID-19 symptoms are also symptoms of radiation poisoning, they are not connected. 

We rate the claim that COVID-19 is caused by radiation poisoning False.  

Our Sources

Instagram post (archived), Feb. 11, 2024

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, About COVID-19, July 10, 2023

World Health Organization, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters, Jan. 19, 2022

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Museum COVID-19 Timeline, March 15, 2023

International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, COVID-19 and RF EMF, April 2020

PolitiFact, No, 5G technology does not cause COVID-19 symptoms, Dec. 21, 2021

National Library of Medicine, Evidence for a connection between coronavirus disease-19 and exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless communications including 5G, Sep. 29, 2021

Mayo Clinic, Radiation sickness, accessed Feb. 13, 2024

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Symptoms of COVID-19, Oct. 26, 2022 

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No, radiation poisoning does not cause COVID-19

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