Health Highlights: Jan. 20, 2016

Last Year Was World's Warmest in Recorded History Livestrong CEO Resigns Vaccine Group and Merck Sign $5 Million Ebola Vaccine Deal

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Last Year Was World's Warmest in Recorded History

Last year was by far the world's hottest in recorded history, and the second warmest on record in the United States, scientists announced Wednesday.

The global temperature record in 2015 broke the record set in 2014, and the trend has continued into 2016. It's also disrupting weather patterns worldwide and causing widespread problems, including the unusual winter floods along the Mississippi River, The New York Times reported.

While a giant El Nino is putting a large amount of heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere, human-caused global warming is the main factor in the record-setting temperatures, according to scientists.

"The whole system is warming up, relentlessly," said Gerald Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., The Times reported.

A relatively slow global warming trend since 1998 has led some politicians to claim that climate change is not real.

However, researchers said that slowdown in rising temperatures was only a slight deviation in an undeniable trend.

"Is there any evidence for a pause in the long-term global warming rate? The answer is no. That was true before last year, but it's much more obvious now," said Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA's climate-science unit, The Times reported.


Livestrong CEO Resigns

After less than a year in the position, the chief executive and president of the Livestrong cancer foundation has resigned.

"It has been a privilege and an honor serving the Livestrong Foundation," Chandini Portteus said in a statement released Tuesday by Livestrong, the Associated Press reported.

"At this time, I am concluding my leadership in order to focus on my family. I will continue to support the organization and its mission and I'm proud of what we had achieved together," said Portteus, who took over in early 2015.

There has been a steep drop in donations and revenue at Livestrong since founder Lance Armstrong was embroiled in a performance-enhancing drug scandal. The new president is Greg Lee, the organization's chief financial officer for nearly 10 years, the AP reported.


Vaccine Group and Merck Sign $5 Million Ebola Vaccine Deal

A $5 million Ebola vaccine deal has been signed between the global vaccine alliance Gavi and drug company Merck.

Under the agreement, Merck will keep 300,000 vaccines ready for emergency use or further clinical trials, BBC News reported.

The company will also submit an application to license the VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine by the end of 2017, which would help pave the way for Gavi to amass a global stockpile of the vaccine.

The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people triggered an intense effort to develop vaccines against the deadly disease.

One of those is the VSV-EBOV vaccine. Merck had led clinical trials of the vaccine, and early results suggest it may provide 100 percent protection, BBC News reported.

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