Why COVID-19 Should Have Killed Shaking Hands

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Shaking hands is a common greeting and gesture of goodwill that has been practiced for centuries, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to the potential risks of this traditional behavior. While shaking hands may seem like a harmless and polite way to greet someone, it can actually be a significant source of transmission for infectious diseases.

One of the primary ways that COVID-19 and other viruses are transmitted is through the exchange of bodily fluids, and shaking hands involves the direct contact of one person’s hands with another person’s hands. This contact can transfer any viruses or bacteria that are present on the skin or under the nails, potentially leading to infection. In fact, COVID-19 specifically is primarily spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes, and these droplets can land on surfaces and objects around the person. If someone then touches these surfaces or objects and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, they can become infected with the virus. While shaking hands may not be the most common way that COVID-19 is transmitted, it is still a potential risk, especially if one of the individuals is unknowingly carrying the virus.

In addition to the transmission of infectious diseases, shaking hands can also contribute to the spread of germs and bacteria in general. Many people do not wash their hands as frequently as they should, and shaking hands with someone who has not washed their hands can transfer any germs or bacteria that they may be carrying. This can lead to the spread of common illnesses such as the flu or the common cold, as well as more serious infections.

Given the potential risks associated with shaking hands, it is important that we adopt alternative greetings and gestures that can help to reduce the spread of disease. Some alternatives to shaking hands that can be used in place of or in addition to traditional handshakes include waving, bowing, or simply saying hello or acknowledging another person with a friendly smile or nod.

While it may be difficult to completely eliminate handshakes from our social interactions, especially as they are deeply ingrained in many cultures, by being mindful of the potential risks and adopting alternative greetings, we can help to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and keep ourselves and others healthy. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this issue to the forefront, and it is important that we continue to prioritize the health and safety of ourselves and others by finding ways to reduce the transmission of disease.

Sergio Alberto Romero, M.S.

The elements compose a magnum opus. My modus operandi is amalgam.