A $1m (£750,000) donation made by singer Dolly Parton to vaccine research is “playing an important role in the Covid battle”, US researchers say.
In April, Parton announced she was giving the money to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
That was one of the trial sites for the Moderna vaccine, which early data shows is nearly 95% effective.
A Vanderbilt spokesperson said Parton’s “generous” gift was helping “several promising research initiatives”.
A portion of the singer’s money went towards funding an early stage trial of the Moderna vaccine.
‘Very promising research’
Her donation is also supporting a convalescent plasma study and research involving antibody therapies, Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesperson John Howser said.
Convalescent plasma is used to treat people who are battling a Covid infection.
“Her gift provided support for a pilot convalescent plasma study that one of our researchers was able to successfully complete,” Mr Howser told BBC News.
“Funds from Dolly’s gift are also supporting very promising research into monoclonal antibodies that act as a temporary vaccine for Covid. Two of these antibodies are now being tested by a global pharmaceutical firm.”
Vanderbilt’s plasma pilot showed enough promise for the US NIH (National Institutes of Health) to step in with $34m (£26m) in additional support to conduct a national, multi-site clinical trial into the benefits of convalescent plasma.
Announcing her donation on Instagram in April, the star said: “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 that research of the coronavirus for a cure.
“I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.”
Appearing on NBC’s Today Show, the star added: “What better time right now, we need this. I felt like this was the time for me to open my heart and my hand, and try to help.”
Following Parton’s gift Jeff Balser, Vanderbilt’s president and CEO, said her “amazing generosity is a source of inspiration”.
He added: “She cares so much about helping others and we are very grateful for her ongoing support. These funds will help us complete promising research that can benefit millions in their battle with the virus.”
The Dolly Parton Covid-19 Research Fund was listed among the funders in a preliminary report into the Moderna vaccine that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
After her contribution to the trial was highlighted on Tuesday, fans took to Twitter to praise the Jolene and 9 To 5 singer.
Give Dolly Parton the Nobel Peace Prize
— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) November 17, 2020
This week, Moderna suggested its vaccine candidate was highly effective in stopping people getting ill and worked across all age groups.
It’s said to work in a similar way to the Pfizer and BioNTech candidate that researchers last week declared 90% effective after a separate preliminary trial.