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Doctor runs 22 miles in face mask to prove they don't lower oxygen levels

‘The mask didn’t come off at all (no food or drink) – and oxygen levels were stubbornly 98 per cent every time I checked,’ says Tom Lawton

Olivia Petter
Saturday 25 July 2020 11:20 BST
Coronavirus: How effective are homemade face masks?

A doctor in Yorkshire has run 22 miles in a face mask to prove that it does not reduce oxygen levels as some have speculated.

Tom Lawton is a doctor at the intensive care unit at Bradford Royal Infirmary and has been working through the pandemic.

Writing on Twitter, Lawton explained that he has seen “the worst of what coronavirus can do” to people.

In order to debunk the myth that wearing a face mask reduces oxygen levels and encourage people to wear masks when they leave the house, Lawton decided to run to work and back wearing one.

Lawton also started a GoFundMe page designed to raise money ahead of his run for The Trussell Trust, who operate food banks in Bradford and around the country.

“I am massively in favour of anything that might keep us all safe,” Lawton wrote on the GoFundMe page.

“I have therefore been upset at the misinformation going out around oxygen levels and masks, as well as confused messaging on when to wear them (indoors!)”

Lawton explained that he was previously a triathlete but that the pandemic has “robbed” him of his fitness.

“So to kill two birds with one stone I will run to and from work wearing a mask, and with an oxygen sats meter.

“I’ll post photos (Twitter and Instagram, @LawtonTri). It’s 8 miles each way, and if it’s nice weather I’ll make one of them a half marathon.

“In between runs, I will be looking after patients (some with COVID-19) and wearing a mask. If I can run 16-21 miles masked, you can probably make it round the shops.”

On Twitter, Lawton confirmed that he had completed the run.

“The mask didn’t come off at all (no food or drink) – and oxygen levels were stubbornly 98 per cent every time I checked,” he wrote.

“Please feel free to cite this when anyone suggests they’re bad for you, and stay safe – and Covid-free.”

Lawton has raised £1,750 so far for The Trussell Trust. You can donate here.

His myth-busting is in line with official guidance from the World Health Organisation, which states on its website: "The prolonged use of medical masks can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency".

You can read more myth-busters about Covid-19 here.

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