Coronavirus: US teenager wins prize for a discovery potentially leading to Covid-19 cure

XinhuaYP Reporter
  • Anika Chebrolu took the top spot in the annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge
  • She was inspired to find possible cures after learning how many people die from flu every year
XinhuaYP Reporter |

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Anika Chebrolu was inspired by learning about the 1918 flu pandemic. Photo: YouTube

A teenager from the US state of Texas has won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge and a US$25,000 prize for a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to Covid-19.

Anika Chebrolu’s winning invention uses computer simulation to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

The 14-year-old said she was inspired to find 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.

“My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the Sars-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts,” she told US news service CNN.

The competition results were announced on Monday. Other finalists projects addressed issues including air and water pollution, and food waste.

Anika said her next goal is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to control the symptoms and death rates of the Covid-19 pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus.

“How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts,” she said to CNN.

“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.