Coronavirus: Doctor runs 35km in face mask to dispel 'upsetting' myth

Nadine Carroll
·3-min read

A British doctor ran 35km to work and back wearing a mask to show members of the public that wearing a mask doesn’t affect oxygen levels.

Doctor Tom Lawton is an intensive care doctor and wanted to do something to put an end to “the misinformation going out around oxygen levels and masks” so he decided to start running to work while wearing a face mask.

Using an oxygen stats meter to monitor his breathing, he posted his results on his twitter account and used the opportunity to fundraise for food banks around the UK.

“If I can run 25km - 33km in a mask, you can probably mask it around the shops,” Dr Lawton wrote.

Dr Tom Lawton, the doctor who ran 35km with a mask to prove they don't stop oxygen.
'If I can run 25km - 33km in a mask, you can probably mask it around the shops,' Dr Tom Lawton said. Source: Twitter/@LawtonTri

On several occasions “when the weather is good”, the Doctor has continued to run to and from work while wearing a home made face mask, continually showing his oxygen levels stay at 98 per cent throughout his runs.

"The mask didn't come off at all (not even for food or drink during the runs) - and oxygen levels were stubbornly 98% every time I checked.

"Please feel free to cite this when anyone suggests masks are bad for you, and stay safe – and COVID-free,” he wrote.

His inspiration behind the experiment was to show people that wearing a mask has little to no effect on oxygen levels and is an effective way to slow the spread of coronavirus, which he comes face to face with daily.

"I've done this because, working on ICU and in the hospital, I've seen some of the worst of what this virus can do - even to people in their 20s and 30s.

Although it’s not recommended people wear face masks while exercising, the doctor said he was staying safe by monitoring himself while conducting the experiments.

While Dr Lawton said that he doesn’t think masks alone will stop the pandemic, he said it’s the easiest way everyone can help slow the spread of the deadly virus, which has so far claimed the lives of almost 46,000 people in the UK, according to John Hopkins university.

"I don't think there's a single magic bullet that will fix this but a whole series of things we can do which play a small part each.

"One of those, and one of the easiest, is probably wearing masks.

"So it upsets me to see misinformation about oxygen levels etc that might scare people away from them,” Dr Lawton posted.

Dr Tom Lawton wear a face mask and monitoring his oxygen levels as he runs to work
Dr Tom Lawton ran to work with a mask to prove they had no impact on oxygen levels. Source: Twitter/@LawtonTri

The Doctor acknowledged that some people are unable to wear a mask but he urged those who could, to try and do their part.

"We've had to wear masks at work for months and they're definitely annoying. And there are people with genuine psychological reasons who just won't be able to.

"But for anyone who can – know that it's irritating but not dangerous, and it can help keep this disease under control,” he told The Standard.

Dr Lawton has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for food bank Trussell Trust, a food bank servicing areas of the UK, who he said “have seen a massive increase in demand due to this horrendous virus”. He has so far raised more than $3,400.

“My mask protects you, your mask protects me – so please wear one!” Dr Lawton told The Standard.

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