Teenager creates data app to track COVID-19 cases
Arij Limam and Shini Somara

For those interested in statistics about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, there's one place to go. It's a website called nCoV2019.live.

Journalists, experts and even governments are using it to glean information on how many people have been infected with the virus around the world, from Burundi, to Bermuda to the British Virgin Islands.

It's clear, concise, and very easy to use. But what's even more interesting is that it was created by 17-year-old Avi Schiffman in his Seattle bedroom.

"When I started this website, there were less than 1,000 total cases and they were all in the Wuhan area of China, and it was just really hard to find the information," Schiffman told CGTN Europe's RAZOR program.

"So I started working on a website to just automatically take those numbers and make them visually appealing and easy to use on a phone or a computer. If you want the numbers it's all there in front of you, you can sort it, search and do whatever you want with it," he explained.

As the coronavirus swept through the world, reaching every corner of the globe, the data were overwhelming, with numbers constantly changing and news organizations struggling to keep up to date.

So Schiffman decided to collate all the swathes of information from trusted sources to make it easily accessible for everyone, no matter where they were, as long as they had an internet connection.

Now, his website is getting millions of hits, "every single day, there's a visitor from every single country on the entire planet, I get visitors from Greenland and the Congo, everywhere," Schiffman said, adding: "I never expected the website to become this popular."

But looking after a data-heavy website is hard work and can be difficult to manage, especially for a teenager working by himself from home.

"It's a big task to keep it maintained," Schiffman said. "It's been a great experience to learn how to manage such a high traffic website, but there's just so much pressure to keep the website constantly working 24/7, because if there's ever any hiccup, then there's tons of people right at their keyboards, ready to send emails," he explained.

However, for the U.S. teen, who said he became interested in health analytics because his mother is a doctor, this is just another project he's working on.

But it has since gathered a lot of interest and opened up doors and opportunities for him for future projects. 

"I guess what has changed is that there are so many more opportunities and interesting people to talk to. There are so many eyes on me from everywhere around the world," Schiffman said.

Although he's still in high school, Schiffman has set his sights on bigger things and is already planning for the future.

"There are so many interesting people that have reached out and so many people that I can, in the future – let's say I make a big company or something like that – there are so many investors and all kinds of things that I know now," he explained.

"So, I'd say that that is very valuable and will definitely help me with the next thing I make after this, I will continue to make more and more things," Schiffman added. "This was just the first step."

It's safe to say that many people will be keeping their eyes peeled for what this teenager will come up with next.