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BBC Inside Science

300 EpisodesProduced by BBC Radio 4Website

Dr Adam Rutherford and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

34:04

COVID reinfections, Susannah Cahalan questions psychiatry and sense of smell and COVID

If you contracted COVID will you then be protected from further infections and illness from SARS-CoV-2 in the future? We’re starting to hear about cases of people being infected by the novel coronavirus for a second time. A handful of these cases have been published in peer reviewed journals. Nottingham University’s Professor of Virology Jonathan Ball discusses how big the problem of reinfection might be. Is it likely to be a common event which could hamper efforts to bring the pandemic under control?

In the latest in our series interviewing the shortlisted authors from this year’s Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, Susannah Cahalan talks to Adam Rutherford about her investigative journalism into the scientific mystery that is mental illness. Her book ‘The Great Pretender - The Undercover Mission that Changed our Understanding of Madness’ focuses on a fundamental experiment carried out in the 1970s by renowned Stanford University Professor of Psychology David Rosenhan. His famous study was published in Science under the title ‘Being Sane in Insane Places’ and describes using ‘pseudo-patients’ to test whether they would be spotted presenting at psychiatric institutions in the US. They weren’t! His findings proceeded to shape modern psychology and psychiatry. It has been a study that Susannah, has come to find rather mysterious, with elaborate descriptions that don’t always seem to add up. Mental illness and applied neuroscience remain tricky disciplines to navigate, but Susannah has had personal experience with her own misdiagnosis of schizophrenia when she has an autoimmune brain disease.

COVID does funny things to your sense of smell: Adam got a heightened sense of smell, producer Fi totally lost her sense of smell, and Inside Science reporter, Geoff Marsh – well… his sense of smell just got weird. To find out why, Geoff called in Professors Mathew Cobb, an expert on smell at the University of Manchester, and Tim Spector from Kings College London whose symptom tracker app was instrumental in getting changes to sense of smell on the symptom list for COVID.

Presenter – Adam Rutherford

Producers– Fiona Roberts and Andrew Luck-Baker

Produced in collaboration with the Open University

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