Coronavirus in India: Netizens ‘expose’ oximeters for giving fake reading using pencils

oximeter 'scam'
Indians post online about oximeter ‘scam’
Image Credit: Twitter

A large number of Indians are buying oximeters, devices that detect blood oxygen levels in users, during the coronavirus pandemic from everywhere like pharmacies, online stores and even from roadside vendors. Now, many netizens are placing pencils into them instead of fingers to “expose” some of these gadgets for being a “scam”.

Oximeters usually use non-invasive methods to monitor a person’s oxygen saturation. As COVID-19 is known to impact a person’s lungs, many have started buying such devices recently.

Now, a clip has been circulating on Twitter in which a person tries out a oximeter by first placing a finger to get the readings of his oxygen levels and pulse and then he places a pencil inside the device, which shows exactly the same results.

Concerns over medical equipment

Following the clip being shared, many tweeps posted videos experimenting with their own devices.

Sharing a picture of a device, tweep @IndurChhugani wrote: “Reports have appeared, that in the Oxymeter instead of finger, if you insert a pencil, the Oxymeter reads the oxygen level and pulse rate of even the pencil. Tried it – it’s true.”

@IndurChhugani also shared his thoughts on medical equipment being used in India: “My son got this fake Oxymeter for us, from a reputed supplier, who supplies all such medical equipment, to doctors and hospitals, from Bandra to Andheri. Frightening.”

Replying to a video of an oximeter with a pen inserted into it, Twitter user @nuts2406 posted: “According to the Oxymeter, this pen doesn’t need to be hospitalised yet! Clearly it is not an Oxymeter; it is just a LED display programmed to give random readings between 80 to 99 per cent. This could potentially lead to a death. Don’t we need a certifying authority for medical equipment?”

While the use of devices to measure oxygen levels is on the rise, medical organisations such as the American Lung Association are advising generally healthy people to not buy pulse oximeters.

The organisation posted on their website,, “Pulse oximeters are not recommended for otherwise healthy individuals. They are indicated for individuals with lung or heart disease who receive supplemental oxygen as a way to monitor and adjust their prescribed oxygen therapy.”

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