"And I can easily understand/ Covid could easily take my gran/ But you don't know what she means to me/ Vaccine," tweeted linguist and author Gretchen McColloch a few days ago. She was referencing "Jolene," Dolly Parton's legendary "other woman" song, because it was revealed that Parton's $1 million donation to COVID-19 research at Vanderbilt University helped fund Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. After seven months of research, the Moderna vaccine is now 94.5 percent effective against the Coronavirus, and vaccinations could begin for at-risk groups as soon as late December.
According to the New York Times, Dolly Parton's COVID-19 Research Fund was critical for the initial vaccine research. Parton originally donated to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in honor of her friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, a professor of surgery at the university.
🎶 Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiiiiiiiiine— Gretchen McCulloch (@GretchenAMcC) November 17, 2020
I'm begging you, please go in my arm
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiiiiiiiiine
Please just keep me safe from covid harm 🎶 https://t.co/mGbg7DpWIk
Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesperson John Howser spoke to the BBC News on Tuesday, stating, "Her gift provided support for a pilot convalescent plasma study that one of our researchers was able to successfully complete."
Her recent donation comes after many years of generosity and activism from the country singer-songwriter. Growing up in a cabin with eleven siblings in East Tennessee, Parton has seen hardship. Despite her timeless songs and instantly-recognizable glamorous presence, her most sweeping legacy will likely be the impact she has made on generations of people.
She's donated millions to United Way, the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, Cancer Research U.K., and others, often anonymously. She created Dollywood to give back to her hometown, Sevier County. Recently, she made waves when she spoke up about the Black Lives Matter movement—and now, she's coming for COVID-19.
Top image: Wikimedia Commons/Eva Rinaldi
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A 22-year-old student journalist from Dallas based in New York City. Interested in words of all forms. More work: https://laurenawilliams.com/