Testing for immunity to COVID-19 and Citizen science on BBC Radio past and present

BBC Inside Science

By BBC Radio 4

Testing for immunity to COVID-19 and Citizen science on BBC Radio past and present

This week, the Government’s target to be testing 100,000 a day for COVID-19 looks like it won’t be met. But we’ve heard about many people who experienced the virus mildly, or who’ve tested positive with no symptoms at all. If you really want to know who has had the virus, the only way to tell for certain is with an antibody, or serology, test. Describing how they work is Professor of Virology at Nottingham University, Jonathan Ball. Eleanor Riley, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at Edinburgh University, explains why its so important to get the specificity and sensitivity of these tests right, and reveals what they can and can't tell us about individual and population-wide exposure to the virus. We like citizen science on BBC Inside Science, it’s an opportunity for anyone and everyone to try their hand at some scientific projects, learn about the scientific process and help researchers crunch through masses of data. Professor Chris Lintott co-founded Zooniverse, the biggest citizen science platform over a decade ago. He’s a regular on the programme telling us about the latest Muon-hunting, Penguin-counting, galaxy-searching opportunities they offer. But they’re not the only ones, Butterfly Conservation want you to help them track the timing of butterfly emergence in the UK and Fold.it are asking people to play their protein folding online game to help them find a possible cure for Covid-19. But back in the 1930’s BBC radio producer Mary Adams was running a series called ‘Science in the Making’, where listeners were invited to participate in, what would now be called ‘citizen science’ experiments. With topics as diverse as charting the timing of blackbird egg laying and deciphering the meaning of dreams, a scientist would explain their hypothesis and ask the audience for help. Allan Jones, a senior lecturer in computing and communications from the Open University has been digging into the BBC’s earliest public science experiments, and the woman who decided to broadcast them. Presenter – Marnie Chesterton Producers – Fiona Roberts and Beth Eastwood
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