Dolly Parton is playing an important role in the global effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The county crooner, who is known for her good deeds, helped fund the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, which has been shown to have a 94.5% efficacy. Parton's funding of the vaccine was confirmed in the New England Journal of Medicine, which noted in the "Funding and Disclosure" section that the vaccine was in part funded by the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund. Parton funded the vaccine trials via the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which played a key role in the development of a vaccine.
Parton herself had announced back in April, just as pharmaceutical companies across the globe began announcing plans and working on vaccine trials, that she would be donating a hefty sum to the effort. At the time, Parton said that she would be donating $1 million to Vanderbilt University after Dr. Naji Abumrad — the father of Jad Abumrad, who hosts the popular podcast Dolly Parton's America — informed her the medical center was working on research for a vaccine.
"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 advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure," she wrote, also encouraging her fans to donate to the cause. "I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations."
Shortly after announcing her donation, Parton told the Today show, "What better time right now, we need this. I felt like this was the time for me to open my heart and my hand, and try to help." Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of VUMC and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said that Parton's "amazing generosity is a source of inspiration and will have a lasting impact on the battle against COVID-19" and explained that "these funds will help us complete promising research that can benefit millions in their battle with the virus."
According to the medical center, Parton has long been a "generous donor." In the past, she made a "transformational contribution" to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt Pediatric Cancer Program in honor of Abumrad and her niece, Hannah Dennison, who had been treated at the medical center for cancer as a child. Balser said that Parton "cares so much about helping others" and that those at VUMC "are very grateful for her ongoing support."
Phase 3 trial results from Moderna's vaccine found that it is nearly 95% effective and has only minimal side effects, including body aches and headaches, which are common side effects of vaccines. No serious side effects were found. Along with reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection, the vaccine is also believed to prevent severe illness. The early data was released just a week after Pfizer's Phase 3 trial results found that its vaccine was more than 90% effective.