United States President Donald Trump on Saturday renewed his attacks on China over the source of the coronavirus in an Independence Day speech at the White House. Trump, who has faced intense criticism over his handling of the pandemic, said China must be “held accountable” for failing to contain the infection.

“We got hit by the virus that came from China,” the president said. “We have made a lot of progress. Our strategy is moving along well. It goes out in one area, it rears back its ugly face in another area. But we have learned a lot. We have learned how to put out the flame.”

Trump has consistently pointed to Chinese culpability in failing to contain the outbreak in its early stages. The pandemic has increased tensions between Washington and Beijing in the last few months. Earlier this week, the president had said that he was growing “more and more angry at China”.

“China’s secrecy, deceptions and cover up allowed it to spread all over the world,” Trump said. “One hundred and eighty-nine countries and China must be held fully accountable.”

The Trump administration has not yet stated what measures it is considering against Beijing as the tensions mount ahead of the November 3 presidential election.

Trump, in his speech, also claimed the United States would have a vaccine to treat the virus “long before” the end of 2020.

Without highlighting any evidence, he further claimed that 99% of coronavirus cases in the country “are totally harmless”. “Now we have tested almost 40 million people,” he added. “By so doing, we show cases – 99% of which are totally harmless – results that no other country can show because no other country has testing that we have. Not in terms of the numbers, or in terms of the quality.”

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, had warned this week that the country was not proceeding in the right direction.

Despite United States being the worst affected by the pandemic in the world, many attendees at the White House event were not wearing masks. The country has reported over 28.39 lakh cases of the coronavirus, including 1.29 lakh deaths, as of Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins University.