By BBC News
A senior aide to President Donald Trump has conceded that the US is “not going to control the pandemic”.
Instead, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Covid-19 could only be defeated by “mitigation areas” like vaccines and therapeutics.
His remarks come as coronavirus cases surge in the US, nine days before the country’s presidential election.
US Vice-President Mike Pence has continued to campaign despite positive tests on his team.
Mr Pence and his wife both tested negative on Sunday, his office said.
Speaking with CNN, Mr Meadows said control of the virus was not a realistic goal because “it is a contagious virus just like the flu”.
In a statement responding to the interview, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the White House was waving “the white flag of defeat”.
He added that Mr Meadows’ comments showed the Trump administration had “given up on their basic duty to protect the American people”.
Some 225,000 Americans have died since the pandemic began, the highest figure of any country.
Addressing supporters in New Hampshire on Sunday, President Trump repeated his claim that the US was turning a corner with the pandemic, despite recording record numbers of infections and rising hospital admissions.
“We’re coming around, we’re rounding the turn, we have the vaccines, we have everything. Even without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn,” the president told supporters, many of them not wearing face masks or observing social distancing.
No vaccine has yet completed clinical trials.
Mr Trump – who campaigned in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin on Saturday – is scheduled to appear at two rallies in Pennsylvania on Monday, before making his way to Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska on Tuesday.
His running mate Mike Pence held a rally on Sunday afternoon in Kinston, North Carolina.
Mr Pence has continued campaigning despite being a close contact of Marc Short, his chief of staff, who has tested positive for Covid-19.
Media reports say Pence adviser Marty Obst and at least two other members of staff have also recently tested positive. The cases have raised fresh questions about the White House’s Covid-19 protocol, three weeks after President Trump was admitted to hospital with the virus before making a recovery.
Joe Biden had no public events scheduled for Sunday. He attended church and later briefly appeared at a virtual concert hosted by his campaign.
In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes programme, which aired on Sunday, Mr Biden said that President Trump still had a chance of winning the election even though he is trailing him by an average of eight points in national polls.
He also accused the president of trying to delegitimize the election by casting doubt over the integrity of mail-in ballots.