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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says Donald Trump “lied for weeks” to the American people about the threat posed by COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic.

Donald Trump has defended his approach in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic following claims he admitted he was playing down the US outbreak.

According to Rage, a new book by journalist Bob Woodward, the US president appeared to understand the threat of COVID-19 as he was telling the nation it was no worse than the flu.

“This is deadly stuff,” Mr Trump is quoted as saying on 7 February. “Its also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic,” President Trump told Mr Woodward on 19 March.

“It was a life and death betrayal of the American people. It’s beyond despicable. It’s a dereliction of duty, a disgrace,” Mr Biden told a rally in Michigan.

“He knew how deadly it was. He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied.”

The US has had the biggest COVID-19 outbreak in the world, with more than 6.3 million confirmed cases, and more than 190,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

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