KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Dolly Parton’s donation in April to Vanderbilt University helped fund the Moderna vaccine that has shown to be nearly 95% effective, according to latest research.
Moderna announced Monday its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. In the preliminary report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, ‘the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund’ is listed among the supporters of the vaccine candidate after she donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University, which participated in its development.
The country music legend and East Tennessee native announced in April she was donating $1 million to Vanderbilt for research on a cure for the coronavirus.
At the time, according to Dolly’s tweets, Dr. Naji Abumrad had informed her they were making advancements on research for a cure at Vanderbilt.
The trial’s principle investigator at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, confirmed to WKRN that the results were promising.
“You can’t tell if a trial works until you have enough cases to evaluate, and the cases are rising quickly. We’re getting an answer faster than we thought would be possible,” said Dr. Spyros Kalams said.
The results are based on 95 people who had COVID and were showing symptoms. Of those, 90 were in the placebo group. Five of those participants were in the vaccine group. There were 30,000 total participants.
Dr. Kalams said the vaccine is similar to the Pfizer injection, but it doesn’t have to be kept at such a low temperature and can last in room temperature for quite some time.
“Monday’s call was kind of, there was really kind of a jubilance there, that we know that we’re not done, but again, as scientists, when we get the second study that largely mimics the first one and it was so rapidly enrolled and we got across all demographics, we got all age ranges, a real world trial, we are just quite proud, I mean, just happy to be part of it,” he said with a smile.
He also said there is a misconception that all vaccines are forms of the actual virus. He said you cannot get COVID-19 from this vaccine.
“I’m not giving you a version of the coronavirus. This is not a weakened version of it. We certainly have some vaccines that are weakened versions of the actual virus or whatever you’re vaccinating against. This is not one of them,” he explained.
He expected multiple vaccines from different companies to be distributed by next month. He said we may begin seeing widespread distribution spring of 2021.
The day after news of the Moderna vaccine’s success broke, many East Tennesseans and country music fans were quick to connect Parton to the funding and applaud her part in supporting the research.