Health and Wellness

White House advisor Dr. Fauci says handshaking needs to stop even when pandemic ends—other experts agree

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with John Mascola, Director of the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) as Anthony Fauci (C), director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases looks on during a meeting at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland on March 3.
(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

White House health advisor Anthony Fauci gave insight on what the "new normal" might be for Americans after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and it includes giving up handshaking indefinitely. 

Speaking on The Wall Street Journal podcast on Tuesday, Fauci said Americans will have to "gradually come back" from this pandemic and won't be able to jump back into their regular lives "with both feet."

The new normal, he says, will include "compulsive hand-washing and the other is the end of handshaking."

"I don't think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you. Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country," Fauci said.

Fauci made a similar plea in an interview with Sinclair Broadcast Group on April 7.

"As a society, just forget about shaking hands," Fauci said. "We don't need to shake hands. We've got to break that custom. Because as a matter of fact, that is really one of the major ways that you can transmit a respiratory illness."

And Fauci isn't alone in his opinion of handshaking.

Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group and spokesperson for Infectious Diseases Society of America says he been trying to put an end to handshakes for nearly three decades.

"It's an outdated custom," Poland says. "Many cultures have learned that you can greet one another without touching each other."

Poland says when you shake another person's hand, you have "no idea" where that hand has been and you are exposing yourself to "elements of danger" like viruses and different kinds of bacteria.

Instead Poland suggests tilting or bowing your head to greet another person like people did many decades ago. "When men greeted other people [back in the day], they raised tor tipped their hat," he says.

Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at Northwell Health in New York tells Make It, he agrees with Fauci too.

He thinks Americans need to start implementing other ways to greet each other "like [with] a head bob or wave of a hand. This act would maintain proper distance, avoid contact and potential spread of COVID-19," Farber says.

Peter Pitts, former FDA associate commissioner, says shaking hands transmits germs and viruses "as swiftly as kissing and hugging" and until we develop a vaccine against COVID-19, the new normal will have to be "verbal greetings and long-sleeved elbow bumps."

"The social theme song for right now is 'I wanna, but better not, hold your hand.' Love doesn't conquer all," Pitts tells Make it.

However, there is some good news. Fauci told the Journal that he hopes to see "light at the end of the tunnel … where we can say we're pretty confident that we can gradually start approaching some degree of normality" by the end of April.

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