Country music legend Dolly Parton has played a crucial role in the development of an effective COVID-19 vaccine. The musician donated $1-million (R15 389 160) to vaccine research back in April 2020.

Her generous donation went toward the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, one of the trial sites for the Moderna vaccine that was recently announced to be nearly 95% effective according to early data.

“My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure,” Parton told the Tennessean in April. “I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.”

A portion of the donation also went towards funding an early stage trial for the Moderna vaccine, reports the BBC. It also helped support a convalescent plasma study and research of antibody therapies, used to treat those struggling with COVID-19 infection.

Jeff Balser, Vanderbilt’s president and CEO said that Parton’s “amazing generosity is a source of inspiration”.

He added: “She cares so much about helping others and we are very grateful for her ongoing support. These funds will help us complete promising research that can benefit millions in their battle with the virus.”

“Her gift provided support for a pilot convalescent plasma study that one of our researchers was able to successfully complete,” added Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesperson John Howser.

“Funds from Dolly’s gift are also supporting very promising research into monoclonal antibodies that act as a temporary vaccine for Covid. Two of these antibodies are now being tested by a global pharmaceutical firm.”

Moderna is a leader in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, and plan on applying for approval of the vaccine in the coming weeks. Moderna also plans to submit applications for authorisations to global regulatory agencies.

By the end of 2020, the company expects to have approximately 20-million doses of mRNA-1273 ready to ship in the U.S. It also remains on track to manufacture 500-million to 1-billion doses globally in 2021.

Picture: Instagram / Dolly Parton

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