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How Dolly Parton helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine

“Praise the Lord!” the singer said, “I’m just very grateful that this is happening ...”

Dolly Parton at the premiere of “Joyful Noise” in Los Angeles, 2012. Matt Sayles, Associated Press

Back in April, Dolly Parton donated $1 million to coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University, CNN reports.

The legendary performer’s donation was then used to develop and test Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the second highly successful vaccine announced in the past two weeks.

Parton learned about her contribution’s impact on Tuesday. Upon hearing the good news, she said on the Today show, “Praise the Lord! I’m just very grateful that this is happening, and if I had anything to do with it, that’s great,” according to CNN.

Parton originally donated to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in honor of her friend — and Vanderbilt professor of surgery — Dr. Naji Abumrad. According to NPR, Parton met Dr. Abumrad at the medical center in 2013 after she sustained minor injuries from a car accident.

Mark Denison, the director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, told NPR that Parton’s donation helped them develop a high-quality test that was used during vaccine trials, and her funding is continuing to support the development of other new drugs that will help inhibit COVID-19.

“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,” Parton said on BBC’s “The One Show,” according to CNN. “I’m a very proud girl today to know I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.”

Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to early data released by the company.

Vaccinations could begin to roll out as soon as late December, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, though the first wave of vaccines will be distributed to high-risk groups like health care workers, people with underlying medical conditions and the elderly, CNN reports.

In addition to her personal donation, Parton urged her fans to contribute to Vanderbilt Health’s COVID-19 research fund, which has raised more than $100,000 of its $250,000 goal.

The news of Parton’s involvement with vaccine development motivated internet linguist and author Gretchen McCulloch to compose a pandemic parody of the musician’s hit song “Jolene.” You can listen to “Vaccine” performed by Ryan Cordell here: