The touching of elbows used as a handshake replacement to avoid spreading germs.
In the 2011 movie "Contagion," a chef in Macao initiates a global pandemic by failing to wash before shaking hands with the character played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Nathan Wolfe, a virologist at Stanford, has said that the Japanese bow and a move called "the safe shake," which involves touching elbows, are potentially less risky than the traditional handshake.
—David Owen, "Hands Across America (subscription required)," The New Yorker, March 4, 2013
A leading scientist has suggested that handshakes should be abandoned for less "risky" alternatives because they are a prime transmitter of disease, especially when epidemics are spreading.
Nathan Wolfe, a virologist at Stanford University in California, suggests using a "safe shake", in which elbows instead of hands are touched to avoid the spread of illnesses such as flu.
—Jonathan Leake and Robin Henry, "Keep flu at bay with a safe shake," The Sunday Times, October 9, 2011
For the past 24 hours, Fred and I have been doing what we call, the "safe shake."
—Eric Hirshberg and Fred Goldring, TED presentation, TED 2009, February 3, 2009