• By DeeDee Stiepan

Is COVID-19 the end of the handshake as we know it?

April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to accept a "new normal" and change behaviors. One example has been the need to alter how we greet each other. As part of social distancing, health experts have recommended that people to avoid shaking hands, since hands tend to carry a lot of germs.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious diseases expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says we've got to break that custom, even after the COVID-19 pandemic. Doing away with handshakes would not only prevent COVID-19, but most likely help to prevent influenza.

Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, says Dr. Fauci is absolutely correct. In fact, it's a topic Dr. Poland has been talking about for years.

Watch: Dr. Poland discusses whether COVID-19 should be the end of handshakes.

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Gregory Poland are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy "Gregory Poland, M.D. / Vaccine Research Group / Mayo Clinic."

"About 20 years ago I started talking about this is lectures that I would give nationally and internationally. The whole idea of extending your right hand derives from mid-evil times when you showed that by extending your right hand, you were not harboring a weapon," Dr. Poland explains.

"The reality of it is, in modern times, you may well be harboring a bio-weapon, so to speak. I think there are much more safe and culturally appropriate ways to indicate a greeting."

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For the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, check the CDC website. For more information and COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

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