Brazilians in frenzied search for portable oximeters

oximeters brazil
Photo: GaViAl/Shutterstock

After the run on pharmacies for masks, hand sanitizers, and chloroquine, a report by Veja Magazine sheds light on the newest trend in Covid-19 Brazil: portable oximeters. Based on a theory by American doctor Richard Levitan that using oximeters might help the early detection of hypoxia — or low blood oxygenation, one of the symptoms of Covid-19 — Brazilians are in a rush to snap up these handheld meters. 

According to data by market consultancy Compre&Confie obtained by the magazine, online oximeter sales jumped 171 percent in April versus the same period in 2019. In addition to that, searches for oximeters in Brazil jumped 10,000 percent between February and March, according to Google data.   

Doctors, however, warn about the risks of wearing the equipment as a “homemade” diagnosis. While they may generate a false sense of safety, they could also increase anxiety levels, with users compulsively checking their blood oxygen levels. Besides that, it is unusual for hypoxia to occur in early-stage patients, as it is often preceded by common symptoms such as a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.