It's truly the greatest gift of all: a $1m donation ( € 841,000) by Dolly Parton to coronavirus vaccine research supported the development of the Moderna vaccine, which shows 94.5 per cent protection from the virus.
In April, Parton donated to research after her friend Dr Naji Abumrad of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee told her that they were making "some exciting advancements" in the search for a cure for the virus. Abumrad and Parton became friends in 2014 after the singer was involved in a car accident and treated at Vanderbilt.
Parton told the BBC’s The One Show: “I’m sure many, many millions of dollars from many people went into that [research fund] but I felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that hopefully will grow into something great and help to heal this world – Lord knows we need it!”
The 74-year-old country musician’s donation has also supported convalescent plasma study at Vanderbilt – treating infected people with the plasma of others carrying antibodies against the virus – as well as the development of several research papers pertaining to the virus.
Moderna has said it could potentially produce one billion doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021 and is applying for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Moderna’s breakthrough follows a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine showing 90 per cent effectiveness.
The Dolly Parton Covid-19 research fund is the latest example of Parton's well-known philanthropy. Her Imagination Library gifts free books to children from birth until starting school in participating areas; children in Tallaght in Dublin receive books from her charity every month until they are five years old.
Parton recently told Oprah Winfrey that she never had children "because I believe that God didn't mean for me to have kids so everybody's kids could be mine, so I could do things like the Imagination Library."
In October she released her 47th solo album, A Holly Dolly Christmas – her third festive collection. Her seasonal musical, Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square, which stars Parton alongside Christine Baranski and Jenifer Lewis, premieres on Netflix on November 22nd. – Guardian