BBC Fact Checking Investigated

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

The other day the BBC’s website carried an article entitled: `Coronavirus: Deadly masks claims debunked.

The article had two authors with additional reporting by five others. Only the BBC would have seven people writing one fairly short article. Their collective aim was to investigate what they called false and misleading claims about the health risks of face masks being shared on social media.

Their first target was the claim that masks deprive your body of oxygen and, surprise surprise, their verdict was this was a false claim.

They quote someone called Professor Keith Neal, described as infectious diseases expert, who says that `thin paper or cloth masks will not lead to hypoxia’. Professor Neal is reported elsewhere to think that masks or, rather, face coverings may need to be worn indoors.

And they quote the WHO, where the latest view is that `the prolonged use of medical masks when properly worn does not cause carbon dioxide intoxication nor oxygen deficiency’. That view, of course, may have changed by the time I finish this sentence.

And that appears to be it.

One professor and the WHO – a body which I don’t think I am alone in thinking is about as reliable on health issues as the members of the Goon Show or the Marx Brothers.

The BBC comes to their debunking conclusion without actually quoting any research.

Now, I’m sorry children at the BBC, but if you are going to debunk something you need some proper research.

What about, for example, the fact that the British Government has stated that citizens don’t have to wear masks if they have respiratory problems of any kind.

Why would they say that if masks didn’t make breathing more difficult?

Breathing, I should perhaps explain to the BBC, involves breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. It’s a natural process – oxygen in and carbon dioxide out.

And what about the fact that two school boys who were wearing face masks while running on a track both collapsed and died? It was surmised that this was probably because the strain on their hearts by the shortage of oxygen proved fatal. And the picture which appeared on the internet the other day and which showed a lady collapsed in the street with her face mask pulled down from over her mouth and nose.

More significantly, what about the study, involving 53 surgeons, which showed that the longer a mask was worn the greater the fall in blood oxygen levels. It was concluded that this may lead to the individual passing out and it may also affect natural immunity – thereby increasing the risk of infection. It has been reported that an N95 mask can reduce blood oxygenation by as much as 20% and this can lead to a loss of consciousness. Naturally, this can be dangerous for drivers, for pedestrians or for people standing up.

The BBC could have done their own research by buying an oxymeter and a mask. Not scientific but nevertheless revealing.

And there was the study of 212 mask wearing healthcare workers which showed that a third of them developed headaches with 60% needing painkillers to relieve the headache. Some of the headaches were thought to be caused by an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood or a reduction in the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Another study, this time of 159 young health workers showed that 81% developed headaches after wearing facemasks – so much so that their work was affected.

Sadly, the seven writers working for the BBC didn’t quote any of these. Who wants boring research papers cluttering up a debunking?

Never mind, how did the BBC do with their second debunking?

This time their target was the claim that masks can cause carbon dioxide poisoning. Their verdict was there was no evidence to support this claim.

Once again they relied on good old Professor Neal who said that carbon dioxide wouldn’t be trapped unless you wear a tight fitting mask – which is, incidentally, the type officially recommended. If your mask is all loose and floppy then it will be pretty pointless. Not that masks aren’t pretty pointless anyway.

And, er, that seems to be it.

Good old Professor Neal.

However, the fact is that anyone who has a breathing problem will find that a mask makes it worse. It makes sense that some of the carbon dioxide which is breathed out with each exhalation is then breathed in because it is trapped. The problem is that the mask wearer may breathe more frequently or more deeply and if that happens then someone who has the coronavirus may end up breathing more of the virus into their lungs. If a mask is contaminated because it has been worn for too long then the risks are even greater. How long is too long? No one knows. No research has been done as far as I know.

The BBC’s third attempt to debunk a claim concerned the claim that masks harm the immune system. I was not surprised to see that the BBC concluded that there was no evidence to support this claim.

Once again the BBC’s seven writers and fact checkers relied on Professor Neal who said that `masks may stop germs getting into your mouth or nose so your immune system doesn’t have to kick in, but this doesn’t mean it is being suppressed’.


Well, I hate to disagree with the BBC and their one and only outside expert, but if people wear face masks for long periods (months or years) then the absence of contact with the real world might well in my view have a harmful effect on immunity.

Do face masks prevent us developing immunity to particular diseases? This depends on many factors – mainly the effectiveness of the face mask. But if the mask isn’t preventing the development of immunity then it probably isn’t worth wearing. Not that it’s worth wearing anyway. Also there is a risk that the accumulation of the virus in the fabric of the mask may increase the amount of the virus being breathed in. This might then defeat the body’s immune response and cause an increase in infections – other infections, not just the coronavirus.

I’m not alone in being concerned about all this. Dr Russell Blaylock, a retired neurosurgeon, reported that wearing a face mask can produce a number of problems varying from headaches to hypercapnia (a condition in which excess carbon dioxide accumulates in the body) and that the problems can include life threatening complications.

Oh, and in New Hampshire, a driver passed out and crashed while wearing a face mask for several hours. The police reported that the driver passed out due to insufficient oxygen intake and excessive carbon dioxide intake.’

And here’s something else, from the British Medical Journal: `Face masks make breathing more difficult. For people with COPD, face masks are in fact intolerable to wear as they worsen their breathlessness. Moreover a fraction of carbon dioxide previously exhaled is inhaled at each respiratory cycle. Those two phenomena increase breathing frequency and deepness, and hence they increase the amount of inhaled and exhaled air. This may worsen the burden of covid 19 if infected people wearing masks spread more contaminated air. This may also worsen the clinical condition of infected people if the enhanced breathing pushes the viral load down into their lungs.’

So I think I’ve got more research on my side than the BBC has managed to dig up.

Sadly, and with great regret, my conclusion is that the BBC is once again wrong, and spreading false comfort which could, in my opinion, be dangerous and potentially deadly.

Their researchers, in my view, really need to look for more than one source.

And, children of the BBC, it is always a good idea to look for a few scientific papers and bits of research to back up your opinions. Ringing up one bloke for a quote isn’t really doing your research. The face is that sadly, not much research has been done into mask wearing. But there is some. Maybe next time you plan on doing a little fact checking you should ask a grown-up to help you.

Please send your complaints to the BBC – which has known financial links with the British Government, the European Union and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

And if you want the real facts about wearing masks look at my two videos entitled `Face Masks: Ending the Confusion’ and `Masks (part 2) – The Reasons They want us to wear them’.

YouTube took down the first of my mask videos but when I protested that it contained nothing but real facts, and that taking it down was a political act, they kindly put it back up.

Oddly, the BBC’s team of researchers didn’t look at my videos or my website. What a surprise that was. I was terribly disappointed and quite shocked.

Finally, once again, my researches show that the BBC is unreliable in my view. If this article had been written by primary school children for a school newspaper I would have given the seven authors 7 out of 100 – for spelling their own names correctly. (I am rashly and magnanimously assuming that they managed this.)

I firmly recommend that if you are British, you avoid giving any money to this terrible and untrustworthy organisation.

You must not do this illegally, of course.

The basic rule, as I understand it, is that you must have a TV licence in the UK if you watch, record or otherwise consume live television. If you don’t watch live television then you don’t seem to need a licence. I have no idea what streaming is but if you start doing it before a programme ends you need a licence but if you start streaming after a programme has ended you don’t need a licence. I checked all that with an article in a rag called The Guardian because I thought that The Guardian would not be rotten about the BBC – after all they both have links with Bill and Melinda.

I wish I could stop paying the BBC licence fee myself.

Sadly, I can’t do this because I haven’t paid the BBC licence fee for years.

Copyright Vernon Coleman July 2020

Vernon Coleman’s book `Coleman’s Laws’ is available on Amazon as a paperback and an eBook. In the opinion of the old woman who works in the corner shop it will provide you with far more solid, reliable information than the BBC will serve up in a lifetime. Take a look. His international bestselling book `How to Stop Your Doctor Killing You’ is also available as a paperback and an eBook.