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President Trump brushed aside allegations that China — as well as Russia and Iran — are spreading misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus during a 64-minute call with "Fox & Friends" on Monday, telling the hosts that "every country does it."

Why it matters: Multiple verified Chinese government Twitter accounts have promoted different conspiracy theories, and Chinese foreign ministry deputy spokesperson Zhao Lijian suggested that the virus come from a U.S. military lab, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports.

  • China's ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, told Axios' Jonathan Swan that he stands by his belief that it's "crazy" to spread such rumors about the virus.
  • The country's strategy is a clear departure from Beijing's previous misinformation tactics and signals its increasingly aggressive approach to managing its image internationally after the first outbreak in Wuhan.

The exchange: The president criticized the Washington Post instead of addressing the misinformation campaigns, suggesting without evidence that the paper spreads false information.

  • "They do it, and we do it. And we call them different things, and, you know, I make statements that are very strong against China, including the 'Chinese virus,' which has been going on for a long time. I mean, I wouldn't say they were thrilled with that statement," Trump said.
  • "Hey, every country does it," he added on the topic of misinformation.
  • Host Brian Kilmeade pushed Trump on the topic, saying, "I believe they're doing it. Mr. President, you know that China has already done this."

The big picture: China has also embarked on a massive humanitarian relief campaign and is giving other countries fighting the coronavirus medical supplies, accompanied by a major propaganda blitz.

  • China's campaign is in part to deflect blame for its early coverup of the epidemic and to show itself a more reliable partner to countries than the U.S.
  • A plane from Shanghai arrived in New York Sunday morning carrying 12 million gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 1.7 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 hand sanitizer units, and 36,000 thermometers.

Go deeper: Trump suggests keeping coronavirus death toll to 100,000 would be sign of success

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 mins ago - World

Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration surprised the world last night by coming out in favor of waiving patents for coronavirus vaccines — but Europe is divided on the issue.

What they're saying: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said Brussels would be willing to discuss it; French President Emmanuel Macron said he backed the U.S. position, but a German government spokesman said the proposal would cause "severe complications" for vaccine production.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

  1. Health: CDC expects new COVID surge starting this month — Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low
  2. Politics: Federal judge overturns CDC's eviction moratorium — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants — U.S. will support waiving vaccine patents — Education secretary: All schools expected to be fully in-person this fall
  4. Economy: U.S. may have added more than 2 million jobs in April — A surge in youth unemployment.
  5. World: True COVID-19 death toll is double the official numbers, study finds — Countries testing J&J vaccine doses after contamination at Baltimore plant — Germany opposes Biden's support for waiving vaccine patents
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Dave Lawler, author of World
25 mins ago - World

True COVID-19 death toll is double the official numbers, study finds

Expand chart
Data: IHME; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

There have been twice as many deaths from COVID-19 around the world as have been reported, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which analyzed excess mortality and other factors.

The big picture: The U.S. has undercounted by over 300,000 deaths, while the death tolls in India and Mexico — second and third on the list, respectively — are nearly three times the official numbers, according to the analysis.