Authorities in 215 countries and territories have reported about 40.8 million Covid‑19 cases and 1.1 million deaths since China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about its outbreak in December. And while scientists around the world are racing to find a treatment for the disease, one 14-year-old girl’s efforts stand out among them.

Anika Chebrolu, who is Indian American, submitted her project to the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge when she was in 8th grade. Initially, she tried to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus.

But “because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time”, Anika — with the help of my mentor — changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And it worked.

Anika Chebrolu from Frisco, Texas, has just won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge — and $25,000

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Her invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus

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You can watch her explain it in the video below

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Anika said her journey’s really exciting and she’s trying to process it

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“The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon,” Anika told CNN.

But she’s already being called America’s top young scientist

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Anika said she got inspired to start searching for potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the US despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

“Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19,” Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, said. “Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope.”

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The media is celebrating together with the 14-year-old

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And people really appreciate her work

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