Americans may have Dolly Parton to thank for their COVID-19 vaccine.
Back in April, the country legend donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to create the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund, to help scientists search for a cure or vaccine for the virus. That money then partially funded pharmaceutical company Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine research, currently a leading candidate in the search for a viable vaccine.
After Moderna released data showing that its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective in preliminary trials — hugely encouraging news as the U.S. struggles with skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 — social media users noted that Moderna’s data cited the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund as one of its supporters.
Parton, 74, said Tuesday morning that she was told of the social media buzz and was pleased the money went towards a useful cause.
“I’m just happy that anything I do can help somebody else,” she said on Today. “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,” she added.
Parton had announced on April 1 that she was sending the money to Vanderbilt because her “longtime friend,” professor of surgery Dr. Naji Abumrad, was working on COVID-19 research.
“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,” the singer shared on Instagram.
“I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research,” she continued, urging others out there who “can afford it” to make donations as well.
Moderna said Monday that the promising vaccine trial data represents a “pivotal moment.” The trial included 30,000 participants, with half getting the vaccine and the other given a placebo, a shot with no vaccine. The participants were instructed to live their lives as usual, and 90 of those with the placebo contracted COVID-19 during that time, 11 of which were severe cases. Of the vaccine group, just five got COVID-19, and none of their cases were severe.
That data showed a 94.5 percent effectiveness for the vaccine.
“This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.
Moderna’s results come exactly one week after Pfizer said that the early results from their COVID-19 vaccine trials showed 90 percent effectiveness. Both vaccines will need more data before the companies can apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that these early results are “quite impressive.”
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