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A 14-Year-Old Girl Won A $25K Prize After Making A Discovery That Might Lead To A Covid-19 Cure

Since the report of its first case from China to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus has claimed more than 1.1 million lives across the globe. In the United States alone, there have been more than 219,000 deaths according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. So of course, scientists and doctors across the globe are on the hunt for a coronavirus treatment. Amongst them includes 14-year-old Anika Chebrolu.

The student from Frisco, Texas recently won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a discovery that could prove helpful in giving potential therapy to Covid-19.

Chebrolu won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a design that utilizes in-silico methodology “to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

“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,” Chebrolu told CNN in an interveiw.

The Indian American teen submitted her project when she was in 8th grade, initially not intending at all for it to be centered on finding a cure for Covid-19. According to CNN, her initial goal had been to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that would attach to a protein of the influenza virus.

“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika explained.”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, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

Speaking to CNN, Chebrolu explained that she had been driven to find cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and discovering that nearly 2 million people die from the flu despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs.

“Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19,” Cindy Moss, a physician and judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN. “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.”

In addition to winning the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, Chebrolu won a $25K prize.

According to CNN, she enjoys dancing Bharatanatyam, which is an ancient Indian dance, and says her efforts have just begun.

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

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Elizabeth Smart Revealed That Her Parents Only Learned About The Rape and Abuse She Endured In Court

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Elizabeth Smart Revealed That Her Parents Only Learned About The Rape and Abuse She Endured In Court

George Frey / Getty

On June 5, 2002, Elizabeth Smart’s story made national headlines after she was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah.

At the time of her kidnapping, the then-14-year-old was tragically raped and tied up daily for the next nine months and endured endless amounts of physical and mental abuse. Thankfully she was rescued nearly a year later on March 12, 2003, after two witnesses recognized her abductors Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee. While the details of her kidnapping were splashed across headlines for years after her kidnapping Smart is now revealing that she did not want to talk about the details with her parents.

In a recent interview, Smart revealed that after being kidnapped as a teen, she couldn’t bring herself to share the details of her experience with her parents.

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“The truth is I never sat them all down and had a ‘tell all’ experience with them,” Smart wrote on Instagram earlier this week. “Honestly when I got home I didn’t want anyone to know what had happened I was embarrassed and ashamed… I was brought to an advocacy center where I had to disclose much of what happened to two professionals and they, in turn, relayed much of what happened to my parents. But I don’t think my parents ever heard in detail what happened from my own lips until my court appearance almost a decade later.”

“I have so many thoughts and feelings on this topic, first and foremost I never want anyone to compare their experiences to me, we are all different and unique and we can never accurately compare our experiences to someone else’s,” Smart continued in her Instagram post. “I also want to point out my case was highly publicized, everyone already knew crimes were committed against me. So it didn’t take me coming forward and disclosing the extent of my abuse to multiple people before my captors were taken into custody. Nor did I have people doubt me.”

Smart shared in a separate Instagram post on Monday that she decided to reveal the details of the abuse she endured to prevent other victims from feeling shame.

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“I’ve noticed a lot of comments about dealing with the shame and embarrassment that I felt after I was rescued and didn’t want to tell anyone the details about what happened,” she wrote. “For years if a discussion or a situation occurred that would seem a natural opener to talking about what happened I generally sidestepped it. In my mind what had happened was something that I hated and never wanted to acknowledge so I just avoided thinking/talking about it.”

“But I remember one day my dad came to me and started discussing the charges Brian Mitchell was going to be charged with, and I felt anger, because of all the charges he was faced with none of them included the worst things he did to me. It was ultimately in that moment that I stopped caring and worrying about the shame and embarrassment that I felt.”

Smart revealed that speaking out about what happened to her ultimately made her feel empowered.

“If someone judged me for what happened, in my mind I came to the conclusion that they did not matter and clearly were not worth my time,” Smart explained. “Since then I became more and more involved in advocacy and as I went out I realized I was not alone in being a victim of rape and sexual abuse. This more than anything made me want to do more, change the culture, speak and share my story if it helped others. In my eyes the first step towards changing the culture of how we treat victims and survivors is to start by believing them!”

Since her kidnapping, Smart has become a mother of three and created a campaign for her Elizabeth Smart Foundation called #WeBelieveYou. The campaign works to encourage people to believe victims of sexual violence.

“For these and many other reasons I want Victim’s to know that #Ibelieveyou and I hope that as all of us move forward when we come across Victim’s and survivors our first reaction is to believe them!” she wrote on Instagram. “Should we have friends or family disclose to us just listen, they don’t owe us answers to our questions or curiosities. Love them, support them, and be their friend.”

Seventeen years after her rescue, Smart continues to express her thanks for those who helped find her.

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“For my seventh day posting about gratitude I feel I can not go without saying thank you to every person who searched for me, prayed for me, followed my story, and did everything they could to bring me home safely!” she wrote on Instagram Sunday. “I shudder to think what my life would be like if it weren’t for good everyday people! Would I still be with my captors? Would I even be alive? How could I survive so long if I were still with them? All terrifying thoughts that I will be so eternally grateful that I never had to find out… My life is absolutely different than I ever imagined it to be, even from the day after I got home when this photo was taken my life is still drastically different than I imagined it to be. However I also know I wouldn’t be where I am today without everything that happened and so for that too I am grateful! During this season of holidays and giving I wish you all the joy, peace, and happiness each one of us deserves! God bless you all!!”

Smart’s kidnapper Brian David Mitchell is currently serving a life sentence. His wife Wanda Barzee was released from a Utah prison in 2018.

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Cardi B Gets Hit With Thanksgiving Backlash After Throwing COVID Party

Entertainment

Cardi B Gets Hit With Thanksgiving Backlash After Throwing COVID Party

Leon Bennett / Getty

The Thanksgiving family drama ain’t over yet, folks.

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, medical officials appealed to Americans to stay home for the holidays to combat a potential increase in COVID cases that would undoubtedly arrive during gatherings. Over the weekend, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, told Americans that they should assume they are infected with the coronavirus if they did opt to travel and attended large gatherings for Thanksgiving.

Over the weekend after news spread that rapper Cardi B hosted a large Thanksgiving celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After she shared a post to her social pages over the weekend, Cardi B is getting a bitter taste of Thanksgiving backlash.

Cardi B responded to backlash Sunday over her Thanksgiving celebrations where she appeared to host a large gathering amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The 28-year-old rapper tweeted, “12 kids and 25 adults over the holidays. It was lit !!”

It didn’t take long for the post to spark commentary from followers aware of public health officials’ pleas to urge Americans to limit their Thanksgiving celebrations. Ahead of the Thanksgiving celebrations officials asked people to keep dinners and gatherings to a limited number of people out of anticipation of coronavirus case increases.

As ever, Cardi was quick in her response and at first, seemed to apologize claiming that she had not meant to offend anyone with her holiday celebration.

“Sorry my bad wasn’t trying to make nobody feel bad.I just had my family in my home for the first time and it felt so good & uplifted me. I spent soo much money getting every1 tested but it felt worth it. I wasn’t trying to offend no1,” she tweeted Sunday afternoon.

Late last week Cardi posted photos of her Thanksgiving Day with her 2-year-old daughter Kulture.

She also replied to a fan who ridiculed her use of COVID testing to support a gathering.

“ME specially and everyone that works around me get tested literally 4 times a week. Im In the middle of work and every time we clock in we MUST GET TESTED !” she Cardi replied.

It didn’t take long for Cardi to continue her responses to critical fans

“People be trying tooo hard to be offended,” she tweeted to one post. “I wonder how they survive the real world.”

Like it or not, tested or not, the reality of the current pandemic situation is that people are still contracting the virus.

“We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period,” Birx warned in an interview with Face the Nation. “If you’re young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you’re infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask.”

“We’re really asking families to even mask indoors if they chose to gather during Thanksgiving and others went across the country or even into the next state,” she added.

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