World

Trump argues with reporter over virus toll

By AAP Newswire

US President Donald Trump has got into a feisty exchange with a reporter during a televised interview, strongly arguing against measuring coronavirus deaths as a percentage of population.

The exchange speaks to Trump's ongoing efforts to downplay the severity of the pandemic in the United States, even as his own health experts are increasingly warning of a dire contagion.

Trump contended in the interview on Axios, broadcast on HBO, that the US actually had the "lowest" numbers in the world in a number of categories, even as it has registered about 150,000 deaths, more than any other nation by far.

The reporter, Jonathan Swan, repeatedly tried to bring the conversation back to "death as a proportion of population," which he said shows the US is facing serious problems.

"You can't do that," Trump pushed back, pulling out papers with colour charts on them.

The president preferred to focus on deaths relative to caseloads, which helps sidestep the issue that the US has a massive number of infections.

"You are not reporting it correctly," the president insisted, as he pushed his theory that the US conducts a large number of tests, thereby leading to a larger caseload. His own experts have contradicted him on this as well.

The country saw raw death figures drop earlier in the summer, but they have since shot back up. In recent weeks there was a sustained period where each day brought more than 1000 new fatalities.