You Can Thank Dolly Parton When You Get Your COVID Vaccine—She Helped Fund Moderna’s Research

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Our unproblematic country queen Dolly Parton has had some major 2020 moments. Professionally, she released a memoir and has an upcoming holiday special. Personally, she’s reminding us what a great humanitarian she has always been. In an Billboard interview she famously said this about the Black Lives Matter movement: “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” she told the magazine. “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”


Another major 2020 moment for Dolly was in April, when we learned she’d donated $1 million toward COVID-19 research.

Now we’re learning that the money, which went to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, supported the research that led to a promising vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. The biotech company announced yesterday that its COVID-19 vaccine is testing 94.5 percent effective. In comparison, Pfizer and BioNTech’s respective vaccines are more than 90 percent effective.

In 2014, Parton was involved in a car accident and was treated by Dr. Naji Abumrad of Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation at Vanderbilt. Parton’s friendship with Dr. Aburmad led to the generous donation, after she was told that Dr. Aburmad’s team was making “exciting advancements” in COVID-19 research.

Parton went on Today this morning and spoke on the news.

In addition to the research, the money also went toward multiple research papers and a study where people infected with COVID-19 were treated with plasma carrying virus antibodies.

Parton’s philanthropy has spanned four decades, with her primary efforts going toward her Dollywood Foundation. She is passionate about literacy and since 1995, her Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails one book a month to all enrolled children through kindergarten. In 2018, Imagination Library sent out its millionth book. Dollywood Foundation also provides scholarships and in 1991, her Buddy Program helped drop-out rates in the community go down to six percent. Parton has won numerous awards for her work in literacy, as well as wildlife conservation. Turns out she spent the early 2000s focused on bald eagle preservation.

There is truly no one else like her.


Written by Lindsay Patton