Dolly Parton Helped Fund COVID Research. A Northeastern Professor Sang About It — And He's Gone Viral

"Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine!" Ryan Cordell sings in his rendition of "Jolene"

dolly parton
John Lamparski | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

A Northeastern University professor has gone viral for his musical tribute to Dolly Parton, who helped fund research for a promising vaccine for the coronavirus.

Ryan Cordell, an associate professor of English at the school, posted a rendition of Parton's hit "Jolene" on Twitter, with the lyrics changed to focus on the search for a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine!" Cordell sings in the chorus of the song. "I'm begging of you please go in my arm."

Cordell's song came in response to a tweet from author Gretchen McCulloch, who suggested the lyrics.

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

Moderna's experimental vaccine yielded extraordinarily strong early results Monday, another badly needed dose of hope as the pandemic enters a terrible new phase.

Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from an ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own vaccine looked 90% effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

Preliminary data shows Cambridge-based Moderna's vaccine candidate is more than 94% effective in treating COVID-19. A Holliston woman is participating in the trial.

The results are “truly striking,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert. “The vaccines that we’re talking about, and vaccines to come, are really the light at the end of the tunnel.”

For his part, Cordell said he had to sing more quietly than the original version.

"I couldn't resist trying it immediately, though I had to sing a bit more quietly than I typically would — for this tune in particular — because my family's all asleep right now," he tweeted.

NBC10 Boston and Associate Press
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