No, one`s ability to hold breath not a test for COVID-19 – WhatsApp video has ‘no scientific validity’
10 September 2020
Recently, a video and message circulating on WhatsApp in Nigeria claims holding one`s breath until a red circle moves from point ‘A to B’ is a sign of ‘disease resistance’. It also claims that it is an easy test for COVID–19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
“If you can hold your breath until the red spot travels from A to B, you have disease resistance power. Click on the center. (Easy COVID test),” read the message which was shared with this correspondent on WhatsApp.
The video appears to have originated from Ananta Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre (AIMS) in Siyol, India. However, attempts to contact the management of the institute have met no response, as at the time this story went to print.
Thus, we asked scientists and public health experts: is this a test for COVID-19, and a sign of disease resistance?
‘Video has no scientific validity,’ scientists say
Professor Madhukar Pai, a Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology & Global Health at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, dismissed the claims in the video.
“This has no scientific validity,” Pai, director of the McGill International TB Centre, wrote in his email response. “There is no science connecting the ability to hold one’s breath with Covid-19.”
Similarly, professor of molecular biology and genomics, Christian Happi, also dismissed the claims in the video saying, “this is pure [disinformation].”
Since Nigeria confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on 27 February, Happi has been testing human-tissue samples from states in Nigeria for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease, in his lab at the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) at Redeemers University in Ede, Nigeria.
“We use a technique called polymerase chain reaction, which enables us to detect specific genetic material from the coronavirus if it is present,” said Happi in a recent interview with this correspondent published in the international science journal, Nature.
How to get tested for COVID-19
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2; the disease spreads through respiratory droplets of an infected person`s cough or sneeze. It can also be transmitted when the droplets land on surfaces and humans come into physical contact with the surfaces through their hands and subsequently touch their eyes, mouth, or nose. The symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, shivering, body pain, headache, and sore throat. Others are recent loss of taste or smell, difficulty in breathing, diarrhea, runny nose, and fatigue.
According to the Nigeria Center for Disease for Control (NCDC), anyone with cough and/or fever, or a history of fever in the last two weeks and experiencing one or more of the COVID-19 symptoms mentioned above must self-isolate and call the COVID-19 response hotlines in their respective states for sample collection and testing.
This fact-checking report was researched by Abdullahi Tsanni, a science journalist, and supported by the African Science Literacy Network (ASLN). It was first published on the ASLN`s website.