Health wins and misses in 2020

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Published 7:32 AM ET, Mon December 28, 2020
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Covid-19 dominated health news in 2020, but scientific advances continued. One huge win: A vaccine years in the making finally brought an end in June to the second deadliest outbreak of Ebola, which killed over 2,200 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Pamela Tulizo/AFP/Getty Images
The first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer's disease was launched in 2020, and research continued to hone in on behavioral and lifestyle Interventions to delay the onset of dementia. UPI/Alamy Stock Photo
A "game-changing" development in the fight against heart and kidney disease associated with diabetes occurred in 2020 when two newer classes of Type 2 medications -- SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 RAs -- were found to reduce the risk of diabetes-associated cardiovascular events and death. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images
A clinical trial published in March showed promise for the investigational drug vericiguat in helping people with worsening heart failure and reduced ejection fraction, a measure of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction. Shutterstock
In 2020, the FDA approved the first treatment for thyroid eye disease, where the eyes push forward and bulge outward, causing eye pain, double vision, light sensitivity or difficulty closing the eye. Medicimage/Shutterstock
The FDA this year approved a drug for head lice in adults and children older than 6 months. The medication, called XEGLYZE, is a welcome addition to the lice treatment arsenal, as many lice have become resistant to existing treatments. ChWeiss/Shutterstock
The FDA in November recognized sesame seeds as a common allergen, calling upon manufacturers to voluntarily add a warning to products that contain the seeds. Allergy advocates want to go further, calling upon the FDA to mandate the warning on labels. Shutterstock
There were a number of health stories that fell by the wayside due to global attention on Covid-19. International progress toward bringing the HIV epidemic under control was blown "completely off track" by the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization. New prescriptions of PReP, an HIV-preventive distributed in blister packs, fell 75% during the spring. Britta Pedersen/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Fear of the novel coronavirus -- and a wish not to overwhelm doctors and hospitals deluged with Covid-19 patients -- kept many people from seeking basic health care. By the first of July, "an estimated 41% of US adults had delayed or avoided medical care including urgent or emergency care (12%) and routine care (32%)" due to Covid-19, the CDC said. Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
The Clean Air Act celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, but the celebration was marred by the loss of a number of environmental safeguards. One key sign of climate change was the surge of wildfires that endangered lung health. Some 52,113 wildfires burned 8,889,297 acres in 2020 -- that's 2.3 million more than the 10-year average and almost double the acreage burned in the 2019 season, according to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. David McNew/Getty Images
Use of e-cigarettes is still a health concern, especially among young people, yet the topic has "basically fallen off the radar since Covid-19" arrived, said the American College of Cardiology. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Studies showed that racial and ethnic minority groups were more likely to have severe cases of Covid-19 and were more likely to need to be admitted to intensive care units, put on ventilators or die, according to the CDC. Scott Olson/Getty Images