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The Reason We Have Dolly Parton to Thank for a Promising New COVID-19 Vaccine


Dolly Parton might play an angel in an upcoming Christmas special, but her connection to a COVID-19 vaccine announcement this week proves she must actually be heaven-sent in real life.

The country queen always brings us joy, but she’s been working way more than “9 to 5” during this difficult year to put smiles on as many faces as possible. Along with her usual creative efforts, Parton announced in April that she made a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee to help with their vaccine 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,” she wrote.

Fans of the singer might recognize Dr. Abumrad’s name from the 2019 NPR podcast, Dolly Parton’s America, which was hosted by the physician’s son, Jad Abumrad. Parton and the senior Abumrad became friends after he treated her for minor injuries following a car accident in 2013. It’s incredible how all these years later, that friendship helped her find a way to make a huge difference for us all during this scary and difficult time.

Dubbed the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund, the New York Times reports that it played a major role in a new vaccine that’s just been proven to be 94.5 percent effective against the virus.

Dr. Mark Denison, who led the research, told NYT, “Her money helped us develop the test that we used to first show that the Moderna vaccine was giving people a good immune response that might protect them.”

Abumrad also praised his friend’s contribution, telling the Washington Post, “Her work made it possible to expedite the science behind the testing. Without a doubt in my mind, her funding made the research toward the vaccine go 10 times faster than it would be without it.”

As for Parton, she learned about the promising vaccine news just before an interview yesterday morning to promote her new book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics (Buy on Amazon, $34.98). Of course, she responded in her typically humble fashion, saying, “I’m just happy that anything I do can help somebody else. When I donated the money to the COVID fund, I just wanted to do good and, evidently, it did!”

New Christmas music, specials, a book, and a vaccine that might help give us all peace of mind — is there anything Dolly Parton can’t do?

Although several fans have joked about changing the words in “Jolene” to “vaccine,” we can’t help but think about the lyrics to one of her other early hits: “Just because I’m blonde, don’t think I’m dumb, ’cause this dumb blonde ain’t nobody’s fool.” And we’re all the better off for it!

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