Joe Biden responded Wednesday to reporting in Bob Woodward's new book that shows President Trump intentionally downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in February and March, accusing him of a "life-and-death betrayal of the American people."

Why it matters: It was one of Biden's harshest attacks yet on Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, coming shortly after taped interviews with the president revealed him telling Woodward on March 19, "I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."

What he's saying:

"He knew how deadly it was. It was much more deadly than the flu. He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months. He had the information. He knew how dangerous it was.
Now while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people. Experts say that if he had acted just one week sooner, 36,000 people would have been saved. If he acted two weeks sooner, back in March, 54,000 lives would have been spared in March and April alone.
You know, his failure has not only cost lives, it sent our economy in a tailspin. It cost millions more in American livelihoods. This is a recession created by Donald Trump's negligence, and he is unfit for this job as a consequence of it. ...
And how many families are missing loved ones at their dinner table tonight because of his failures? It's beyond despicable. It's a dereliction of duty. It's a disgrace."

Between the lines: An analysis from Columbia University in May, which was not peer-reviewed at the time, found that the U.S. could have prevented approximately 36,000 COVID-19 deaths if broad social distancing measures were enforced earlier in March.

  • The same study found that nearly 54,000 deaths could have been avoided if social distancing restrictions were enforced two weeks earlier.

Go deeper

17 hours ago - World

U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Exeter College on Sept. 29. Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The U.K. reached a new high for total positive coronavirus cases this last week, per the country's Health Ministry, and reported a record number of COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, per the BBC.

Driving the news: Top scientific advisers warned last week that the U.K. could see up to 50,000 coronavirus cases per day by mid-October if current growth continues.

Sep 29, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans won't take Trump's word on vaccine

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Note: Margin of error for the total sample is ±3.2%; Chart: Axios Visuals

Barely two in 10 Americans would take a first-generation coronavirus vaccine if President Trump told them it was safe — one of several new measures of his sinking credibility in the latest wave of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Details: Given eight scenarios and asked how likely they were to try the vaccine in each case, respondents said they'd be most inclined if their doctor vouched for its safety (62%), followed by insurance covering the full cost (56%) or the FDA saying it's safe (54%).

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 33,642,602 — Total deaths: 1,007,769 — Total recoveries: 23,387,825Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,191,061 — Total deaths: 205,998 — Total recoveries: 2,813,305 — Total tests: 103,155,189Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. Politics: 7 former FDA commissioners say Trump is undermining agency's credibility
  5. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  6. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  7. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.
  8. Work: United States of burnout — Asian American unemployment spikes amid pandemic