Dolly Parton helped fund the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine that's being called 'a game changer'

On Monday, Moderna announced that its Covid-19 vaccine is more than 94% effective in preventing Covid-19, according to preliminary data. And there's an unexpected celebrity who helped make it happen: iconic musician Dolly Parton.

Back in April, Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center's efforts to combat Covid-19, which included Moderna's vaccine trial and clinical research. In the footnotes of the New England Journal of Medicine's announcement about the Moderna vaccine's results, "the Dolly Parton Covid-19 Research Fund" is credited as one of the supporters.

Parton's contribution to Vanderbilt University Medical Center was made in honor of her longtime friend, Dr. Naji Abumrad, who is a professor of surgery. "[Abumrad] informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure," she wrote in an Instagram post in early April.

Parton, 74, has a long history of philanthropy. In 1995, she launched the "Imagination Library," which is a community-based reading initiative that mails a free book every month to children.

More recently, after the 2016 fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, she pledged $1,000 a month to each of the hundreds of families that were left homeless by the wildfires. (In 2017, Forbes reported Parton's net worth as $37 million.)

"We can't save the world, but we can save the world we're living in," Parton, 74, told "Today" on Monday. "Maybe I'm dreaming. But I don't think so."

Moderna's vaccine, like Pfizer's, uses messenger RNA (or "mRNA"). The vaccine works by producing proteins that mimic the virus that causes Covid-19. Pfizer announced on Nov. 9 that their vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel called the result of the trial a "game changer" in an interview with CNBC Monday.

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