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Renowned philanthropist Dolly Parton donates a million to COVID-19 vaccine effort

Lily Wakefield May 7, 2020
Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton. (Ian Gavan/Getty)

Dolly Parton could be the one to save us all, as the renowned philanthropist has donated a million dollars towards vital research for a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to The Daily Beast, when the country music icon was involved in a car accident in 2013, she became friends with Vanderbilt University surgeon Naji Abumrad.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Abumrad showed Parton the research the university was doing on antibodies to combat COVID-19, and she wanted to help.

She has now donated a million dollars to the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, which is researching synthetic antibodies that could treat and even prevent the virus.

While some on social media were surprised that Parton would be involved in the vaccine effort, others pointed out that she is a renowned and award-winning philanthropist.

In the mid-1980s, Parton created The Dollywood Foundation. By building her theme park, Dollywood, she created jobs and boosted the economy in the poor area where she grew up.

One Twitter user wrote: “Dolly Parton has CONSISTENTLY been one of the most dedicated, consistent, selfless philanthropists in the Southern US.

“She built Dollywood *JUST* to create jobs in an impoverished area. Like that was literally her only goal.”

Parton has a passion for literacy, and her programme Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends a book every month to each child enrolled from when they are born until they start school.

It currently provides books for 850,000 children around the world every month.

She has also worked to raise money for medical causes, including HIV/AIDS charities and the American Red Cross, and has been involved in nature conservation.

Another Twitter user wrote: “Her behaviour makes her a leader. We could all aspire to be more like her. She is not greedy. It is a shame that more people with money don’t share their fortunes like she does.”

What research is Dolly Parton funding?

The million dollars donated by Dolly Parton to the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center will go towards the centre’s monoclonal antibody research.

James Crowe, the director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, told Seeker that once they have isolated coronavirus antibodies from the blood of survivors, they must then reproduce them and begin testing.

He said: “We’ll look at about 20 [different antibodies] in mice, and then we’ll end up with two of them in monkeys… the first human trials of any antibody are likely to be in the June to August window.

“That’s when we put antibody into 20 people and make sure nothing bad happens. And then there’s a next step where we need to figure out the dose.”

He said after testing to determine a dose, there would then be a third human trial which would figure out if the therapy was actually effective.

“That’s thousands of people,” he continued. “If the antibody works and we already know that it’s safe, then it would be released to the public.

“That’s going to take an uncertain amount of time. Probably a year, a year and a half, before it would be fully released to the public because we have to do this methodically.”

More: coronavirus research, Dolly Parton, dollywood, donation, Vaccine, vanderbilt university, Vanderbilt Vaccine Center

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