In the backdrop of the acute shortage of oxygen cylinders faced by hospitals in many parts of the country, a video of a man – who identifies himself as Doctor Alok – advising how nebulizer can be used as a substitute for oxygen cylinders is circulating on social media. Along with the video, it is being claimed that the doctor is from Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad. IAS officer Awanish Sharan posted the video with the message, “He is Dr Alok from Sarvodaya Hospital Faridabad. He has shown an excellent technique using ‘nebuliser’ to improve the levels of blood oxygen level. In today’s scenario of Oxygen crisis this can save lives of many. Request everyone to watch it once.” At the time of writing this article, it had been retweeted close to 800 times.

Several individuals on Twitter and Facebook have shared the video with the same message.


Sarvodaya Hospital Faridabad refuted the claim that the video was endorsed by the hospital. “The video has not been backed by any evidence or scientific study…Please do not follow any such practice without consulting your medical practitioner. It could lead to worsening of the disease,” reads its statement.

What is a nebulizer?

According to the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nebulizer is “a machine that turns liquid medication into a mist that you inhale into the lungs over a few minutes”. Patients with a medical condition like Asthma require a nebulizer to inhale the medication.

Doctor Aviral Vatsa of Scotland’s National Health Service quote-tweeted the video and rubbished the claim. “Please don’t dub this as a substitute for oxygen…A nebulizer transforms a drug into small droplets so that it could reach deep into the lungs. Oxygen cylinders are required even with nebulizers in many cases.”

Surgeon and Group Chairman at Medanta Hospital Dr Arvinder Singh Soin took to Twitter also rubbished the claims made in the video. “A purported technique that can substitute a nebulizer machine for an oxygen cylinder to improve blood oxygen levels is totally baseless,” he wrote.

“Using air nebuliser may mildly inflate the alveoli, largely filled with liquid, to increase the internal surface area. This may allow a brief uptake of oxygen from the air. However, it’s only a short fix until one is waiting for the oxygen. The air nebuliser is certainly not a replacement for oxygen,” Alt News Science founding editor Sumiaya Shaikh explained.

The doctor in the video also refutes the claim

India Today spoke with the doctor seen in the video. His name is Dr Alok Sethi, a junior doctor who works at the cardiac department in Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad. He reportedly told the news outlet that he has been alerting people about the clip since the time it went viral. Rubbishing the claim – use of nebulizer as an alternative to an oxygen cylinder – he informed that he had sent the video to a person who’s completely stable, and was just trying to explain how to use a nebulizer.

A nebulizer cannot be used as a substitute for an oxygen cylinder as propagated on social media through this misleading video. Medical misinformation can prove fatal in the middle of a deadly pandemic. People receiving WhatsApp forwards should cross-check the information with medical professionals and not try self-treatment without professional supervision. Follow the standard medical opinion for monitoring your blood oxygen and seek medical help if it drops below 95.

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About the Author

Jignesh is a writer and researcher at Alt News. He has a knack for visual investigation with a major interest in fact-checking videos and images. He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Gujarat University.