In April, country singer Dolly Parton announced she had donated a whopping $1 million to COVID-19 research in her home state of Tennessee.
Now, seven months later into the pandemic that has cost over 247,000 Americans their lives, it has been revealed that Parton’s generous donation helped partially fund the recently-announced Moderna vaccine.
The country icon’s name appears in the footnotes of a preliminary report published by the New England Journal of Medicine that discusses the production of Moderna’s vaccine. Parton is mentioned alongside other sponsors including NIAID and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
According to the report, Moderna’s vaccine was supported by the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the same organization Parton donated to back in April.
At the time, the “9 to 5” singer said she was donating to Vanderbilt in honor of her friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, a researcher affiliated with the university.
“My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancement towards research of the coronavirus for a cure,” Parton wrote on Instagram at the time. “I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.”
On Monday, pharmaceutical company Moderna said its shots provide strong protection against the virus — the second time this month a company has delivered promising news about a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective. The news puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.
Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.
“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press.
“It won’t be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It’s going to require many vaccines” to meet the global demand, he added.
On Tuesday, the singer, actress and philanthropist told NBC News she was just glad her donation is being put to good use.
“I'm just happy that anything I do can help somebody else,” Parton said Tuesday. “When I donated the money to the COVID fund I just wanted it to do good and evidently, it is! Let’s just hope we can find a cure real soon.”
Spectrum News has reached out to representatives for Dolly Parton for comment.