Dolly Parton: Legendary performer. Songwriter extraordinaire. Feminist idol. And, as of this year, coronavirus vaccine sponsor.
The diminutive diva’s $1 million donation to Covid-19 research was partly used to fund Moderna’s promising Covid-19 vaccine – something she didn’t even know until her name appeared among other sponsors in a preliminary report on the vaccine.
In media appearances on Tuesday, Parton was beaming with pride and excitement at the news.
“Praise the lord!” she told “Today” hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. “I’m just very grateful that this is happening, and if I had anything to do with it, that’s great.”
Parton, who said she’d found out her donation contributed to the vaccine trial on Tuesday morning, told BBC’s “The One Show” she felt “very honored and very proud” to be a small piece of what could be an essential treatment for Covid-19.
“I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that will hopefully grow into something great and help to heal this world,” she said. “I’m a very proud girl today to know I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.”
Parton first donated to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Covid-19 research efforts in early April, when there were around 200,000 cases of Covid-19 in the US. Now, there are over 11.3 million cases, and nearly 250,000 Americans have died.
The Moderna vaccine is thought to be 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to early data released by the company. Vaccinations could begin as soon as late December, top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said, though they’ll be made available first to high-risk groups like health care workers, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.
In April, Parton encouraged her fans who could afford it to donate to the Vanderbilt Health Covid-19 research fund. Since then, it’s raised more than $100,000 of its $250,000 goal.