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Dolly Parton is also surprised she helped fund Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 17, 2020

Dolly Parton arrives at the 53rd Annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 13, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.  (Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press)
Dolly Parton arrives at the 53rd Annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 13, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press)
By Christi Carras Los Angeles Times

Who had Dolly Parton finding the cure for COVID-19 on their 2020 bingo card?

According to multiple reports, recent findings from the New England Journal of Medicine have identified the country music legend as a sponsor of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine after she donated to Vanderbilt University’s coronavirus research fund earlier this year.

And Parton seems as surprised as anyone about her role in the scientific breakthrough.

“Yeah, that’s what I understand this morning,” she told NBC’s “Today” Tuesday when asked about the buzz surrounding her donation. “I haven’t read up enough. They told me that just before I went on the air that they may be asking me about that.

“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, and evidently it is. Let’s just hope we find a cure real soon.”

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, Tennessee, 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’s 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.”

Naturally, Parton’s fans were thrilled to learn of her latest philanthropic act, promptly flooding Twitter with praise for the “Holly Dolly Christmas” artist and certified national treasure.

“Yes, knowing Dolly Parton partially funded a vaccine DOES make me trust it even more,” tweeted drag artist Courtney Conquers.

“Someone said cos Dolly Parton funded the covid cure we should be singing ‘vaccine’ to the tune of ‘Jolene’ and though I can’t find your tweet please know it’s ALL I’ve been doing this morning,” tweeted TV writer Camilla Blackett.

And Parton’s VUMC donation isn’t the only effort she’s made to fight the COVID blues. Earlier this year, the Grammy winner joined the celebrity crusade to entertain quarantined families by reading children’s books aloud from the safety of their homes.

Parton’s “Goodnight With Dolly” series featured the icon reciting bedtime stories in her pajamas every Thursday for 10 weeks as part of her Imagination Library’s ongoing mission to make literature accessible to kids around the world.

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