Oximeter sales soar but there is no guarantee of accurate reading and ‘no govt regulations’

A pulse oximeter | Wikimedia Commons

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New Delhi: Nisha Saxena, a 60-year-old Delhi-based homemaker, is one of thousands of Indians who purchased oximeters as Covid-19 strengthened its grip on the country. But she says her experience has been less than savoury.

A small, clip-on device, oximeters assess your oxygen levels and heart rate. Since Covid-19 hits patients’ lungs, oxygen levels in one’s blood are believed to be a key indicator of whether one has the disease. 

The device has been available for home use for a long time, but its sales have soared amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, people who have used it, like Saxena, complain that the readings often appear discrepant and vague.

“We purchased two oximeters, one was for Rs 1,800 and the other for Rs 1,500. When we use these oximeters, we never get similar readings from both the devices. There is always a difference of at least five points.”

This is a worrying discrepancy. Even a reading off by three points can mean the difference between good health and needing medical attention. 

Priyal Khattar, a Gurgaon resident, didn’t find the device helpful either. “We haven’t noticed any problems with the oxygen reading, but the reading of heart rate fluctuates a lot. I tried it while sitting and my heart rate reading was 68… The minute I stood up and tried again, it jumped to 105. I hadn’t done anything physically straining.”

Khattar said the family purchased the oximeter for about Rs 3,000 but does not trust it anymore.

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