- Associated Press - Saturday, November 21, 2020

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A million-dollar donation by Dolly Parton has helped fund the production of a promising new coronavirus vaccine by Moderna Therapeutics.

Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna released data early Monday on its candidate vaccine, mRNA-1273, finding that it reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by 94.5%.

According to a preliminary report on the vaccine by The New England Journal of Medicine, Parton was credited among others for her donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which she announced in April.

PARTON OFFERS HELPING HAND

Parton has long been a patron of philanthropy. She founded the Imagination Library in the 1990s to boost literacy among children and opened her Dollywood empire in 1986 to employ thousands of East Tennesseans.



Parton tweeted she would be donating a million dollars to Vanderbilt because of her friendship with Dr. Naji Abumrad, who treated her after a 2014 car crash and informed the country star that the hospital was making “exciting advancements” toward a cure for the coronavirus.

The Vanderbilt Vaccine Center is researching synthetic antibodies that could treat and even prevent the virus. The Moderna vaccine was made possible by the researchers at Vanderbilt, Emory University, National Institutes of Health and others.

In Tennessee, the COVID-19 situation is bleak. The state recorded its highest levels of infection, death and test positivity ever in the past week. As of Friday, the state was averaging 3,900 infections and 44 deaths daily.

The average positivity rate was up to 12%. Of Tennessee’s 95 counties in the past week, 88 have a positivity rate above 10%, the White House threshold for a “red zone.”

Parton tweeted Tuesday after news of her donation and the vaccine spread.

“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 can find a cure real soon.”

‘Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiiiiiiiiine’

There are still months to go before the vaccine becomes widely available to the public, pending Food and Drug Administration approval and peer review. But Parton’s help gave a glimmer of hope to everyone affected by the virus and fans of the icon’s work.

Twitter users took to social media to share their enthusiasm for the vaccine and Parton’s involvement, with some even making a parody of her famous song “Jolene.”

“And I can easily understand / Covid could easily take my gran / But you don’t know what she means to me / Vaccine.”

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