Dolly Parton. (Courtesy)

Dolly Parton last night spoke of her joy at helping to fund the production of a promising new coronavirus vaccine. The kind-hearted star ploughed $1m (Sh109million) of her own money to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center - a partner of the US company Moderna that has developed the COVID-19 vaccine.

She said: “I am a very proud girl today that I had anything at all to do with something that will help pursue this crazy pandemic.”

She added on last night's BBC One Show: “I feel very honoured and proud. When the pandemic started many months ago I felt led to put some money into the programme at Vanderbilt Hospital, it’s a wonderful hospital and it's been so good to me and my family over the years.

"I donated a million dollars and they called it the Dolly Parton Covid fund. Out of that, it got more money and it started developing many wonderful things. I just felt very proud to be part of that little seed of money that will grow into something great and that will help to heal this world. Lord knows we need it.”

A source said: “Dolly was determined to try and make a difference after seeing all the suffering in the world and jumped at the chance to try and help any way she could. She is very modest and doesn't like the fuss...but her generosity here has really made a difference.”

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She announced she had donated the sum for coronavirus research, in April. This week, Moderna announced its coronavirus vaccine may be 94.5% effective against Covid-19, and Parton is namechecked in the preliminary report. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the report states that the work was supported by the "Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)" amongst other groups.

Moderna's president Stephen Hoge told Sky News that through her financial support of Vanderbilt, Parton had indeed helped fund early research and clinical trials that led to the success.

"Yes, that's true," he said.

The development comes after Parton tweeted in April: "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 research of the coronavirus for a cure. I am making a donation of 1 million dollars to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations."

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Parton's fans have cheered the apparent impact of her donation. The news even prompted one Twitter user, Ryan Cordell, to record a cover of Parton's hit single Jolene, replacing the famous lyric with the words "vaccine, vaccine, vacci-ine".

The donation is the latest in a long line of charity work including her Imagination Library which gifts free books to children from birth until starting school in participating areas. She also gave money to fighting wildfires in the US. In October she released her 47th solo album, A Holly Dolly Christmas – her third festive collection. Her seasonal musical, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, which stars Parton alongside Christine Baranski and Jenifer Lewis, premieres on Netflix on 22 November.