Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Wednesday, 23 September 2015

16-Year-Old Girl Creates Super Fast Ebola Detecting Kit, Wins Google Science Fair

16-Year-Old Girl Creates Super Fast Ebola Detecting Kit, Wins Google Science Fair

The Debrief: Meet the Junior in High School that's potentially cut the Ebola death rate by 40%

Think you've been trucking along doing OK in your life so far? Meet Olivia Hallisey; a 16-year-old from Greenwich, Connecticut who has just won the Google Science Fair after creating a super-fast and super-cheap method of detecting Ebola.

Prompted by last year's Ebola crisis in Africa, Olivia's invention can detect the virus in just 30 minutes (previous tests could take up to 12 hours) and can do it it even before the disease presents any symptoms.

The test itself doesn't need to be refrigerated (a massive bonus in hot countries with dodgy electricity systems) thanks to silk fibres Olivia used which means the virus can be stored for up to a week on the testing card.

Olivia said, 'Current Ebola detection methods are complex, expensive, require unbroken refrigeration from manufacture to use and up to 12 hours from testing to confirmed diagnosis ... The test provides rapid, inexpensive, accurate detection of Ebola viral antigens based on color change within 30 minutes in individuals prior to their becoming symptomatic and infectious.'

And, she says that current Ebola detection methods cost '$1000 each, require complex instrumentation' and 'trained medical professionals to administer'. According to Olivia, up to 90% of victims die without early detection. Olivia reckons her invention could help decrease those cases to 50%. Even better, it could cost as little as $25 a go.

Talking to CNBC, Olivia says she hopes that her win would turn more girls onto science, 'I would just encourage girls just to try it in the beginning, remind them that they don't have to feel naturally drawn or feel like they have a special talent for math or science, but just really just look at something they are interested in and then think how to improve something or make it more enjoyable or relate it to their interests.'

As the winner of the fair, Olivia has recieved $50,000 to continue her research. Oh, and a trophy made out of Lego. Obviously. Find out more about Olivia's research here.

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