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Yes, teenager Anika Chebrolu awarded US$25,000 for work on potential Covid-19 treatment

A graphic shared on Instagram claims a teen has won tens of thousands of dollars for work on a “potential Covid-19 treatment”. 

Above a photo of a young woman presenting a scientific poster and model is the headline: “Meet Anika Chebrolu, the Indian-American teen who won $25,000 for work on potential Covid-19 treatment.” 

Although originally posted on Instagram, Facebook’s fact-checking system has flagged the graphic as possibly false.

Did an Indian-American teen develop a drug that could help combat Covid-19? We checked.

Fine young scientist

According to various 19 October 2020 news sources, a 14-year-old girl has won US$25,000 for a discovery that could potentially treat Covid-19. 

As the graphic shared on Instagram claims, her name is Anika Chebrolu.  She is currently in grade 8 in Frisco in the US state of Texas.

The 14-year-old won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge, where students in grades 5 to 8 can submit a video describing a unique solution to an everyday problem for the chance to win $25,000 and a mentorship from a 3M scientist.

The 3M Young Scientist Lab said Chebrolu “used in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to find a cure for the Covid-19 pandemic”.

3M is a US-based multinational company operating in industry, health care and consumer goods. 

Chebrolu won a mentorship with scientist Dr Mahfuza Ali, to transform her idea “from concept to reality”, according to CNN

She reportedly said her next goal is to develop her findings into an actual cure for the virus. So as one Instagram user claimed, it is not yet an antiviral drug that could treat the virus but a path into how a potential drug might work.

Chebrolu told US TV show Good Morning America on 20 October that “given the immense and severe impact Covid-19 has had on all of us across the world, I knew that it would be important to alter my project to reflect this”. – Taryn Willows


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