Robert De Niro has reignited his feud with Donald Trump, claiming the US president “doesn’t care how many people die” in from COVID-19.

Actor De Niro, 76, who has been one of Trump’s most vocal celebrity critics, criticised the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed more than 82,000 people in the US, according to John Hopkins University.

Asked why more scientific advisers weren’t openly criticising Trump, De Niro told BBC Newsnight: “It’s Shakespearean, the whole thing, you’ve got a lunatic saying things that people are trying to dance around. They’re doing it in the hearings a little more, trying to say tactfully that this is what will happen, Fauci is doing that.”

He added: “It’s appalling. [Trump]wants to be re-elected. He doesn’t even care how many people die.”

When Newsnight host Emily Maitlis suggested that Trump’s fanbase would disagree, De Niro responded: “No, he doesn’t care for those people. And the people who he pretends to care about are the people he has the most disdain for because he could care less about them.”

“They might like to tell themselves or to delude themselves, but he doesn’t care about them.”

Trump, who will seek re-election in November, has been criticised by opponents for ignoring the advice of his scientific advisers, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is helping co-ordinate the country’s COVID-19 strategy. He was last month criticised for suggesting that people ingest bleach to try and cure the coronavirus, and also refuses to wear a facemask.