THE BBC has been called 'grossly irresponsible' for airing an interview with an Oxford professor who opposes lockdowns and does not believe the new Covid variant spreads more quickly.

Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today show on Tuesday morning, following the announcement of a new national lockdown by the Prime Minister on Monday evening.

She has throughout the pandemic called for a 'herd immunity approach', meaning those at high risk shield but everyone else carries on as normal.

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Asked about the new variant requiring a lockdown, said: "There is a large body of theoretical work that would suggest that the more plausible explanation is that the variant has only a slight transmissibility advantage, if any at all."

She said the increase in cases was down to 'strong competition' between the variants, a seasonal increase and 'delays to herd immunity caused by lockdowns'.

Following the appearance, journalist Carole Cadwalladr tweeted: “Why on earth did @BBCr4today feel the need to platform the views of anti-lockdown proponent @SunetraGupta today of all days? It’s not just bad public health. It’s bad journalism.”

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The post was liked more than 11,000 times with others calling the decision 'grossly irresponsible' and 'outrageous'.

Today presenter Nick Robinson responded to defend the decision, writing: “Bad journalism is only talking to people you agree with and asking them questions you think you already know the answer to.”

Ms Cadwalladr replied: “Absolutely. But ‘balancing’ the advice of SAGE, Independent SAGE & countless other scientists with a fringe voice whose forecasts have been proven repeatedly wrong but were used by govt to justify delayed actions without describing this context is a huge public disservice.”