When Moderna announced on Nov. 16 that its coronavirus vaccine candidate was effective in 94.5% percent of its trial cases, the globe seemingly took another step toward ending the pandemic. For that, one of the most famous country singers in the world deserves some of the credit. Yes, Dolly Parton helped fund the vaccine in April by donating $1 million to the Vanderbilt Medical Center for coronavirus research.
The Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund received a shoutout in the New England Journal of Medicine for help with the vaccine when Moderna released its findings. Parton’s fund was listed alongside the names of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institutes of Health.
In April, Vanderbilt announced Parton had made a “generous gift to advance COVID-19 research” that would “increase scientific knowledge and advance the battle against COVID-19.” In an appearance on Today, Parton said, “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.”
On Instagram at the time, she also wrote that a longtime friend, who’s been a researcher at Vanderbilt for years, told her “they were making some exciting advancements towards that research of the coronavirus for a cure.” So, she donated $1 million toward “that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.”
Moderna announced its findings a week after Pfizer said that early data showed that its own vaccine candidate was effective in 90% of its cases. Both vaccines rely on messenger RNA (mRNA) that creates antibodies for the spikes that sit on top of the coronavirus. If a person eventually gets infected, those antibodies would then attack the virus.
Both vaccines would need to be given in two separate shots, but Moderna has an advantage over Pfizer because it can be refrigerated at a warmer temperature and can be stored for six times as long.
Plus, Pfizer didn’t get the celebrity rub that Parton has given the Moderna candidate.
Her fans have even joked that Parton should get credit for ending the coronavirus. As one person wrote on Twitter, “Dolly Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt for vaccine research. Vanderbilt researchers were involved in the Moderna trials. Ergo, Dolly Parton helped cure COVID.” Another person weighed in by writing, “The fact that Dolly Parton was involved in funding the research for the Moderna vaccine that’s proven to be 95% effective is one of the best plot twists the writers of 2020 have given us.”
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