Donald Trump defended his administration’s coronavirus response on Wednesday amid damning revelations contained in a new book by the investigative journalist Bob Woodward, who quoted the US president as saying “I wanted to always play it [the coronavirus pandemic] down”.

Speaking from the White House, Mr Trump appeared to admit that he had publicly downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic, telling reporters that he did not \”want to create panic\” about the largest health crisis in a century.

As the United States death toll surpassed 190,000, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, attacked his election opponent for “an unjustifiable dereliction of duty.” Meanwhile, former intelligence officials called on the president to quit “if he has a soul or conscience”.