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WASHINGTON, D.C. United States (Xinhua) — Despite his leading role in the U.S. fight against COVID-19, top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has been sidelined by the White House, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Citing a senior White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Post reported that Fauci “no longer briefs US President Trump and is never in the Oval Office anymore.”

According to the report, Fauci had not spoken to Trump since “the first week of June.”

Since COVID-19 broke out in the United States, the Trump administration and especially the president himself have had strained relations with the scientist over the country’s coronavirus policy.

In recent days, with coronavirus infections and death surging in most US states, Fauci, whose TV appearances were reportedly “scuttled” by the White House, had spoken more critical of the country’s response to the epidemic.

In a live stream event on Tuesday, Fauci warned against a “false narrative” of a falling COVID-19-related death rate even as Trump continued to tout alleged progress the United States had made in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak by citing a falling US mortality rate.

In another interview with the Hill on Thursday, Fauci said that US states hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic should not be moving forward with reopening, another public rebuke of Trump, who had repeatedly downplayed the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the country and encouraged states to quickly reopen their economies.

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