One of America's top infectious disease experts has offered a damning assessment of president Donald Trump's recently appointed coronavirus adviser, suggesting everything the doctor says is "false".
Dr Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDD), claimed that Dr Scott Atlas is providing the public with misleading information about the virus, which has so far claimed some 205,000 US lives.
Dr Atlas, a Stanford physician who repeatedly criticised lockdown measures, was hired by the president as a coronavirus adviser in August. He has no experience in dealing with infectious disease.
In a phone conversation with a colleague onboard a commercial flight - overheard by NBC News - Dr Redfield, 69, said everything Dr Atlas, 65, says is "false".
Dr Atlas has been giving the president misleading data about the effectiveness of face masks, the potential benefits associated with herd immunity, and the impact the disease has on young people, according to the conversation heard by NBC.
The NBC report stated Dr Redfield later confirmed he had been talking about Dr Atlas on the call. The Independent has contacted the CDC for comment.
Dr Redfield earlier this month angered Mr Trump when he suggested that a coronavirus vaccine would not be widely available until late 2021, after the president had pushed for one before the end of this year.
Hours after Dr Redfield's comments, the president called a White House press conference to say the virologist was "confused", before insisting that a vaccine would be available before November's election.
In a conversation picked up by an Associated Press reporter, Mr Trump was later heard describing how he’d just publicly rebuked one of his top scientists.
Throughout the pandemic, the White House has increasingly been at odds with the CDC, which has taken a more cautious approach to the disease, while Mr Trump has repeatedly pushed for the economy to reopen as he seeks a second term in office.
Mr Trump had been focusing his reelection campaign message on the economy. But with businesses crippled by the virus and millions of Americas out of work, he has found it ever more difficult to position himself as the jobs candidate.
More recently, Trump campaign officials have been attempting to paint the president as the "law and order" candidate amid unrest in several state across the country during Black Lives Matter protests.