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‘Queen of Country’ Dolly Parton Helped Fund Development of COVID-19 Vaccine
Dolly Parton attends We Are Family Foundation honors Dolly Parton & Jean Paul Gaultier at Hammerstein Ballroom on November 05, 2019 in New York City.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Country music icon Dolly Parton trended on social media on Tuesday after it was revealed that the Grammy award winner had helped fund the development of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.

The news began to circulate just before the legendary singer and songwriter made a live appearance on NBC’s Today Show, where hosts referenced a preliminary report published in the New England Journal of Medicine that had listed the “Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund” as a financial supporter.

“That’s what I understand this morning,” Parton said on the national broadcast. “I’m just happy that anything I do can help somebody else, and when I donated the money to the Covid fund, I just wanted it to do good. Evidently, it is. Let’s just hope we find a cure real soon.”

Moderna announced on Monday that early analysis of its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in protecting against COVID-19 infection.

As the Los Angeles Times reported:

In April, Parton gave $1 million to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in honor of her longtime friend, Dr. Naji N. Abumrad, a surgical professor at the Nashville college. At the time, the VUMC’s COVID-19 relief efforts aimed to improve treatment for coronavirus patients until a vaccine was available.

Now it appears at least some of Parton’s generous gift went to Moderna, which this week dubbed its COVID-19 vaccine 95% effective, according to preliminary data from tests conducted by the biotech giant. Moderna is one of two highly successful vaccines that experts say could be distributed starting as early as the end of this year.

“The results from Pfizer, and now Moderna, gives me a great deal of encouragement,” said Dr. Buddy Creech, director of the vaccine research program at VUMC. “The effectiveness levels are beyond our expectations, giving us firm hope that we will see an end to the pandemic once widespread vaccination is possible.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, widely considered the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, said the results of the Moderna trial are “truly striking,” adding that “our aspirations have been met and that is very good news.”

Ms. Parton, 74, has long been known for her philanthropic efforts. She founded the Dollywood Foundation in 1988 to inspire children in rural Tennessee to achieve educational success. In 1995, the Foundation established a literacy program that grew into an international movement, donating more than 100 million children’s books around the world. After wildfires swept through the Smoky Mountains in 2016, the Foundation led a drive to help families who lost their primary residences get back on their feet. Parton is also known for her support of HIV and AIDS research, along with raising money for the American Red Cross.

The Queen of Country also made a Tuesday appearance on BBC One’s The One Show, where she acknowledged that Moderna’s progress was the result of a collective effort, saying, “I’m sure many millions of dollars from many people went into that.”

“I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that will hopefully grow into something great and help to heal this world,” she added. “I’m a very proud girl today to know I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.”

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