As the US closed in on 200,000 deaths from Covid-19, Donald Trump’s health secretary and a key member of the White House coronavirus taskforce defended the administration’s handling of the pandemic and insisted the president and a senior public health aide were both correct when they made contradictory statements about the imminency of an effective vaccine.
According to Johns Hopkins University, by Sunday morning 199,155 people had died of Covid-19 in the US, suggesting that at current death rates 200,000 would be reached later in the day or on Monday. Other counts put the death toll higher. Early in the pandemic, Trump said keeping deaths to 100,000 would represent “a very good job”.
The president’s handling of the outbreak has been widely panned, not least after revelations by the reporter Bob Woodward that Trump admitted knowing the seriousness of the threat early on but said he had played it down.
This week Trump also came under fire from a former member of his…