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Loss of smell is a common symptom of COVID-19. Neurobiologist has a clue about why

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Loss of smell isn't a terribly common side effect of most viruses. Even the loss of smell associated with the common cold has more to do with inflammation and congestion than actually losing the ability to detect a smell. But with the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most common symptoms of the virus was people not being able smell their favorite foods.

This condition, called anosmia, is the focus of one Harvard neurobiologist who joined River to River to talk to host Ben Kieffer about his lab's investigation into the connection between the loss of smell and how the virus impacts a patient's nervous system.

But first, while President Donald Trump was in office, staff in the White House residence periodically found wads of printed paper clogging a toilet. In her forthcoming book,The New York Times' White House correspondent Maggie Haberman teases out whether Trump was responsible. We hear from returning guest Tim Walsh about what a president owes the country in releasing their papers.


  • Tim Walch, director emeritus of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
  • Dr. Bob Datta, professor of neurobiology at Harvard University
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa