Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old girl from Frisco, Texas, has won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a discovery that could lead to a potential COVID-19 therapy, CNN reports. The award comes with a $25,000 prize.

The 8th-grader from Nelson Middle School used “in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

According to the New Indian Express, Chebrolu began her work to fight the seasonal flu, but changed her plans when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and stories about the people who were suffering inspired her work.

“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,” Chebrolu said.

According to ABC30, It’s unclear whether her research has been tested in cells or a live model.

SARS-CoV-2
Yaquelin De La Cruz holds a COVID-19 vaccine at the Research Centers of America (RCA) in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13, 2020. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

As ESSENCE previously reported, “according to a report released by the Commonwealth Fund, at least 7.7 million Americans have lost jobs with employer-sponsored health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When you include their dependents, this actually impacts well over 14 million people. And, that’s just counting the Americans, who, until recently, even had health insurance – not the almost 30 million Americans who didn’t or the many others who still have subpar and expensive employer-sponsored health insurance plans despite the Affordable Care Act.”

Over 220,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since March, while over 8.26 million Americans have become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.