Fist bumps are dangerous too, Chapel Hill pharmacologist says

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Fist bumps are dangerous, too, study shows
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With vaccines on the horizon, healthcare experts caution that now is not the time to throw caution to the wind.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- With vaccines on the horizon, healthcare experts caution that now is not the time to throw caution to the wind.

In fact, a local pharmacologist has written in his nationally syndicated column that we should stop all close contact.

Joe Graedon, an adjunct professor at UNC's Eshelman School of Pharmacy, writes The People's Pharmacy and has for years answered readers' questions about healthcare.

He noted that with hugs and handshakes declared no-nos during the pandemic, many people are searching for alternatives.

"A lot of people are thinking well, I know, I've got an idea, fist bumps or what they do on cruise ships is called a cruise tap," he said using a single knuckle to tap a knuckle on his other hand, "but it turns out that maybe that doesn't work so well after all."

Graedon said he became interested in the issue after watching some politicians continue to shake hands while campaigning during the pandemic.

In a recent column, he wrote about research he found that was published earlier this month by Veterans Administration units in Ohio.

"They coated keyboards, with a benign virus. It's called a bacteria phage virus. And they let them type on the keyboard. And then what they did is they, they had them shake hands or fist bump or do a cruise tap with a test subject. And I think to everyone's surprise, the fist bumps actually were pretty good at transmitting that virus. So were the cruise taps," Graedon said.

After reviewing the research, he reached a tough conclusion and imparted it to his readers asking them to abandon touching each other.

"If a fist tap can do it, then you know any other contact probably can do it as well. So sadly we do need to maintain some distance," he said.

But he didn't want to leave his readers with no alternative.

So he suggests simply placing your hands over your heart as a greeting or a traditional Hawaiian gesture of fondness called the Shaka.

To make the hand sign you fold down the middle three fingers on your right hand, extend you thumb and pinky finger, and then waggle your hand by twisting your wrist.

"You know that's something that a lot of people in Hawaii do when they want to greet a good friend. So maybe if the rest of us on the mainland would adopt the Shaka, we'd be a lot safer," Graedon said as he demonstrated.

Good advice that should leave his readers saying "mahalo" -- the Hawaiian word for "thank you."