Dolly Parton Partly Funded Research For Moderna's Successful COVID Vaccine

by Christina Marfice
Sarah Dollard/Twitter and Dan MacMedan/Getty

We already knew Dolly Parton was a national treasure, but this just proves it even more

While the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, we’ve gotten some good news this week: Moderna, a pharmaceutical and drug making company, just announced some preliminary results from the first large-scale clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine, and they think their vaccine is nearly 95 percent effective at preventing infections. What’s even better is that Moderna’s vaccine is the second to announce better-than-expected results from a Phase III clinical trial. And now for the news that’s sure to put a smile on your face: Part of the reason the Moderna vaccine exists is because of country superstar and proven national treasure Dolly Parton.

Eagle-eyed reporters who were reviewing documents related to the Moderna trial quickly spotted something unexpected: The vaccine got a $1 million boost from the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund. Did the songwriter who gave us “Jolene” just save the world? Maybe.

According to The Guardian, Parton has also funded research into COVID-19 treatments, including a convalescent plasma at Vanderbilt University. The news outlet says she’s been credited in a number of research papers about the virus, because their studies were conducted partially with money from her huge donation.

Moderna’s vaccine data is still preliminary, but the company has said it hopes to have enough safety data to submit to the FDA for emergency use authorization by the end of the month. If both that and Pfizer’s vaccine are authorized for use (like they’re expected to be), billions of doses could be produced and available by the end of next year.

Both vaccines are much more effective than scientists even hoped they would be.

“I had been saying I would be satisfied with a 75 percent effective vaccine,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the New York Times. “Aspirationally, you would like to see 90, 95 percent, but I wasn’t expecting it. I thought we’d be good, but 94.5 percent is very impressive.”

Parton made her donation back in April, after her friend, Dr. Naji Abumrad of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation at Vanderbilt University, told her that they were making “some exciting advancements” in their search for a vaccine or a cure. Clearly the money was put to good use.

In addition to saving the world from the pandemic, Parton has been hard at work to save a holiday season that’s almost sure to be less jolly than usual, what with the social distancing and everything. She’s recently released a line of holiday bakeware, she’s releasing her first Christmas album in 30 years, she’s producing a Christmas movie for Netflix, and her website is full of jolly, Dolly-themed Christmas sweaters.

When we look back at all the darkness in 2020, Dolly Parton is sure to be the brightest light of the year.