Saint Dolly Parton explains how she unwittingly funded a promising COVID-19 vaccine

Nick Duffy
·3-min read

Dolly Parton has revealed she had no idea she had helped to fund a successful COVID vaccine until the rest of the world started asking her about it.

The gay icon made a splash this week as she was revealed to be one of the backers of the Moderna vaccine candidate, which a study has suggested is 94.5 per cent effective at preventing the virus.

In an appearance on the BBC’s One Show on Tuesday (17 November), Parton spoke about her role in its development, explaining that her contribution came after she gave $1 million to set up the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Gay icon is exited to ‘help to heal this world’ with COVID vaccine.

She explained: “I heard [about the vaccine] yesterday and I didn’t realise it was part of the programme that I was part of, so I feel very honoured and proud.

“Actually, when the pandemic started, many months ago, I just felt led to put some money into a programme at Vanderbilt Hospital, it’s a wonderful hospital here. It’s been so good to me and my family over the years.

“I donated a $1 million, and they called it the Dolly Parton COVID Fund. Out of that, they actually got more money, and it just started growing, and they were developing all of these wonderful things.

“I just found out today actually that it was for real, and that it was part of the programme we helped start.

“I’m sure many, many millions of dollars from many people went into that, but 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. Lord knows, we need it!”

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton at the Country Music Awards. (Getty)

The music legend explained that no one contacted her to tell her about her role in the vaccine, so she found out while doing interviews to promote her new album, after the news started trending on Twitter.

Parton said: “I was shocked! I was already at work, I was doing interviews and they asked me on the air, and I didn’t know at that time that it was for real.

“I didn’t want to say anything, but I thought, ‘I need to check that out, and if that’s so, I’m a very proud girl today, to know that I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.'”

‘Saint’ Dolly Parton has a long list of incredible accomplishments.

Dolly Parton’s extraordinary generosity is not news to fans of the singer, who has a long line of humanitarian accomplishments.

The singer’s Imagination Library book gifting programme has helped teach millions of children to read since it was first set up by the singer in 1995, delivering more than 130 million free books to children across the world, earning her special recognition from the Library of Congress.

Her Dollywood Foundation also provides scholarships to help children from underprivileged backgrounds, while the singer spent millions on relief efforts in 2017 after homes across Tennessee were ravaged by wildfires.

Among Parton’s many honours is an award from the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003 for setting up a sanctuary for endangered bald eagles at her Dollywood park.

Fans were also thrilled to learn that the singer’s production company had a silent stake in the feminist TV classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As The New York Times reported in 2016, when Parton discovered that a female executive was receiving less royalties from Buffy than her male counterparts, she personally cut her a cheque.