Campaigners have called on social media firms to protect Dr Catherine Calderwood from the online abuse she's received since resigning from her position as Scotland's Chief Medical Officer.

Trolls have posted thousands of offensive and often misogynist messages on social media attacking Dr Calderwood since she quit her position on Sunday. 

Some of the posts mocked her for working as a gynaecologist before being named CMO, where she led the nation's efforts to battle the worst pandemic in living memory. 

Others simply called her a "silly b****" or a "f****** retard". 

One particularly shocking post suggested Nicola Sturgeon must have "been on waccy baccy" or as "thick as cowpat" to have chosen Calderwood as CMO. 

"This is what happens when you put a gynaecologist in charge of a pandemic," wrote Twitter user Jay Copeland, who was more measured in his criticism that the foul-mouthed trolls. 

"Dr Calderwood is not fit or suitable to be leading in these circumstances. We need a virologist or an epidemiologist, not someone who specialising in the vagina.

"We are not dealing with a thrush crisis."

One Twitter user described her as a member of "Wokus Dei" and suggested she was only promoted because she shared the same woke, left-wing and politically correct views as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 

Before she resigned, the blogger Stuart Campbell, founder of Wings Over Scotland, tweeted: "Tell you one thing, though - I bet you a tenner if the CMO had a p**** he'd have had his jotters by now."

Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Centre For Countering Digital Hate, told The Herald that Dr Calderwood should be protected from the abuse.

He said: "Trolling can do immense harm to its victims. In fact, it is designed to do so.

"That's why we recommend victims do not engage with trolling, as it just gives them what they want, which is attention and prominence.

"Instead, they should block trolls and take time away from social media if necessary for their own mental health.

"In this particular instance, social media companies need to be aware that an intense storm is happening and do everything they can to protect Dr Calderwood, and ensure they do not publish hashtag trends that simply exacerbate the problem."

Even the SNP's political opponents agreed that Calderwood does not deserve the insults and trolling.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Annie Wells told The Herald: “Dr Calderwood was understandably criticised after the revelations about her holiday home trips.

“But it’s completely inexcusable for that condemnation to develop into misogynistic and aggressive abuse.

“She admitted her mistake and paid for that with her job – it’s time to move on.

“The episode cannot be used as an excuse for social media trolls to have a field day.”

The gendered aspect of the abuse levelled at Dr Calderwood reflects a wider problem with online misogyny, said Catherine Anderson, CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation.

"At this time of national crisis, more than ever, we should be supporting people - not engaging in harmful abuse when people are feeling even more vulnerable and exposed," she added.

"At the Jo Cox Foundation we take the view that abuse of any kind is unacceptable, regardless of one's beliefs or politics. We must be able to disagree agreeably, to voice our opinions in a considered and respectful way, and to remember that words have impacts - that harmful language has a detrimental effect on the wellbeing not only of the victim, but of their families and their close networks. 

"In the case of Dr Calderwood, the abuse has been noticeably gendered - referencing her background as a gynaecologist - and it is true that women bear the brunt of abuse and intimidation, and that this is a gendered issue.

"Women in the public eye attract more abuse due to their visibility, and the really worrying thing for us is that it is deterring brilliant young women from coming forward into public-facing careers.

"That impacts on the diversity, vibrancy and integrity of all our public institutions. Now, more than ever, we need to see gender-balance in our institutions, and we will be continuing our work to tackle abuse and intimidation in public life at all times - not just in times of national crisis". 

Dr Calderwood resigned on Sunday night, a day after photos emerged showing her flouting social distancing measures by visiting her second home in Fife with her family.

HeraldScotland: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at a coronavirus briefing at St Andrews House in Edinburgh with Scotland's former Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood and Health Secretary Jeane FreemanFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at a coronavirus briefing at St Andrews House in Edinburgh with Scotland's former Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman

The Scottish Government had initially claimed in a statement that she “took the opportunity this weekend to check on a family home in Fife as she knows she will not be back again until the crisis is over”.

However, at a press conference, the CMO admitted she had visited the holiday home twice in the past two weekends, in direct contradiction of her guidance for Scots to remain at home and avoid unnecessary travel.

Questioned about the discrepancy, Sturgeon revealed Dr Calderwood had only told her about one of the two visits on Saturday night, only disclosing the second trip the following day.

Sturgeon said: “The statement that went out was a reflection of our understanding at that time of the reasons for her visit that weekend.

“That reflected the understanding we had, but she later made clear that there had been a second visit and, of course, made that clear at the briefing yesterday.”

The First Minister said the reasons for Dr Calderwood making the 44-mile journey between homes were “irrelevant” because “there was no justification for her having been at the house at one or two occasions because it was in breach of the guidance and advice that was issued”.

Sturgeon had originally wanted Dr Calderwood to remain in post, arguing that losing her would be “damaging” to the government’s coronavirus response.