LONDON (Reuters) – Conditions in autumn and winter may provide an evironment in which the spread of the coronavirus picks up again, England’s deputy chief medical officer said on Monday, warning the country may have to live with the virus in the long-term.

Asked at a news conference about the government’s preparedness for a possible second wave of the virus, Jonathan Van-Tam said: “We may have to live and learn to live with this virus in the long term and certainly for many months to come, if not several years. A vaccine may change that but we can’t be sure we will get a vaccine.”

He added: “There may be an element of seasonaility and it may well be that the autumn and winter conditions provide a better environment for the virus to then do its work again. So we have to be very cautious about that and plan for these kinds of healthcare surges that we hope we don’t need.”

(Reporting by William James and Andy Bruce, Writing by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison)