No, Holding Your Breath for 20 Seconds will not help you determine if you have a Covid-19 infection

Coronavirus False

Amidst the vast misinformation online, a self-check method to know if you have Covid-19 is going viral on various social media platforms. According to this viral simple self-monitoring test, people can determine whether they have Covid-19 by holding their breath for more than 20 seconds.

Fact Crescendo received many fact-check requests about this test on our WhatsApp Factline (9049053770).

Medical experts have called out this claim as being entirely false. Simply holding one’s breath for a certain duration cannot tell whether one has coronavirus or not.


To check the oxygen level in the lungs, a viral graphic instructs users to hold their breath from point A to point B that amounts to roughly 20 seconds duration. If you can hold your breath without any difficulty, it proves that you do not have coronavirus. 

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We learned during our research that a similar claim’s had gone viral last year as well. 

At that time, University of Maryland Chief Quality Officer and Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Faheem Younus had debunked this self-check method as myth. 

“Most young patients with Coronavirus will be able to hold their breaths for much longer than 10 seconds. And many elderly without the virus won’t be able to do it,” he said in his tweet dated 16 March 2020.


Dr. Thomas Nash, pulmonologist and infectious disease specialist at New York Presbyterian Hospital, had told Reuters that this breathing test is just made up. The breathing test being shared online would not be a reliable way to determine whether someone has the virus.

Pulmonologist Dr. Raja Dhar told Fact Crescendo that asymptomatic Covid-19 patients could also hold their breath for that much duration. So, that does not rule out them as Covid-19 negative. There is no evidence to suggest this test can determine whether you have the new coronavirus.

Even the World Health Organization has clarified that being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from the coronavirus disease or any other lung disease.

WHO suggested the best way to confirm if you have the virus producing Covid-19 disease is with a laboratory test. You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.

There are currently two primary types of COVID-19 tests: diagnostic tests that look for active coronavirus infection in your mucus or saliva, and blood tests that hunt for antibodies. A Health article explained then as follow:

PCR Test: Considered the most sensitive for detecting an active infection and the results are highly accurate.

Antigen Test: Often called a “rapid test” because the turnaround time is much quicker than PCR test. It is also cheaper to produce.

Antibody Test: Cannot diagnose active coronavirus infection. All it tells you is whether you have been infected at some point in the past, even if that occurred months ago.


You cannot check whether you have Covide-19 by simply holding your breath for 20 seconds. Medical experts have refuted that such a “self-check” test. You should always check with your doctor and follow the appropriate guidelines issued by the Health Ministry of India.


Title:No, Holding Your Breath for 20 Seconds will not help you determine if you have a Covid-19 infection

Fact Check By: Mayur Deokar 

Result: False