Two groups of health experts containing Oxford academics have written separate letters to the UK’s chief medical officers expressing polarising views on the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first group of doctors and academics has expressed concern over the Government’s suppression strategy, calling for targeted measures such as segmentation and shielding of vulnerable groups to be adopted instead of local or national lockdowns.

Another group of experts, however, has denounced the idea of a targeted approach of shielding the vulnerable until 'herd immunity' had developed, saying there were no examples of this working in any other country.

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The comments from the opposing groups came in open letters addressed to the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific officer.

The authors of the letter in favour of a more targeted approach include Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, and Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford, who previously said the public was 'terrorised' by the language used around covid.

Conversely, a letter led by Trisha Greenhalgh, chair of primary care health sciences at Oxford University, and supported by 22 other health experts, backed current efforts to "suppress the virus across the entire population, rather than adopt a policy of segmentation or shielding the vulnerable until ‘herd immunity’ has developed.”