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Flu, more flu and a blood test that could help ward off Alzheimer’s.

By Charlotte Barnes

Our roundup of health news headlines on Friday 7 January.

You cannot open a newspaper today without finding a flu story. The Guardian covers the latest development that GP’s have turned to ‘giving patients doses of last year’s swine flu vaccine’ as the death toll from the virus reached 50 this week.

Dame Sally Davies, the interim chief medical officer for England, says she will be ‘writing to GPs to tell them that they can start using H1N1 vaccine on clinical need.’ Meanwhile, Labour has criticised the government as being ‘slow to act at every stage’, the paper reports.

Throughout the week there have been mixed reports regarding surgery stock supplies, including our exclusive on surgeries prevented from sharing much-needed supplies, which you can read here.

Most papers are focusing on the rise in the flu death toll as well, many reporting the case of a new mum who was one of the 11 to die from the virus this week. The Daily Mail reports Sarah Applin, 32, was ‘admitted to hospital suffering from swine flu while heavily pregnant’ and gave birth to her son 11 weeks premature. She ‘survived for nearly a fortnight but died on Tuesday’.

Health stories away from the flu are thin on the ground today, but The Daily Mail provides respite in an optimistic story (unusually for them). The paper reports a ‘simple blood test’ is being developed by scientists in Florida which could keep the debilitating disease at bay.

The test ‘could greatly speed up the diagnosis of those already suffering memory problems’ and help ‘ the development of revolutionary drugs’ which, in the future, could ‘stop the disease in its tracks’. Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, cautioned the report published in the journal Cell ‘was at an early stage’.

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know, and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

Daily Digest – 07 Jan 2011