Now Streaming on PBS (US) and BBC iPlayer (UK)

Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

Discover the science and medical innovations that conquered some of the world’s deadliest diseases and doubled life expectancies for many across the globe in less than a century.

Set in the context of today’s COVID-19 crisis, this series explores the lessons learned from previous global pandemics — including smallpox, cholera, and the Spanish flu — and reveals how scientists, doctors, self-experimenters and activists launched a public health revolution, saving millions of lives.

Across the series, best-selling science writer Steven Johnson and historian David Olusoga embark on an investigative journey through 300 years of scientific breakthroughs and go behind the scenes of modern medicine to meet the unsung heroes who are tackling COVID-19 and other public health threats today. Together they expose the normally hidden world of public health and reveal how collective efforts around the world can lead to extraordinary outcomes.

Each episode will explore one aspect of public health that has played a central role in extending life expectancy, from the history of vaccination, to how we developed safe and effective medicines; the use of data gathering and analysis in preventing epidemics and how our own behaviour can affect the progress of disease. Featuring leading public health authorities and scientists on the front lines of the current pandemic, 'Extra Life' reveals how the pioneering approaches and triumphs of the past can provide a blueprint for our future in the battle to live longer.

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