A national plan for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine in Scotland is being developed, amid a “ray of hope” that an effective jab is on the way.

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday hailed the “speck of light on the horizon” after firm Pfizer reported that its Covid vaccine is more than 90% effective at preventing the virus.

The First Minister said the development is “perhaps amongst the best news we’ve had in recent weeks” but cautioned the jab may not provide “a way out of this” until next year.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed an initial agreement has been reached for Scotland to receive a population share of the UK’s allocation of any coronavirus vaccine.

The UK has secured 40 million doses in total of the Pfizer vaccine, which was developed with BioNTech.

Ms Sturgeon warned there is still “a long way to go” before it becomes available, saying: “It’s not going to provide us with a way out of this today, or tomorrow or next week or perhaps not even in this calendar year”.

She urged people to stick to the coronavirus restrictions, adding: “Today we do have that ray of hope, that speck of light on the horizon that at some point in the not too distant future we may have scientific developments that help us out of this pretty dark tunnel – as it has seemed in the last few months – that we’re in just now.

“So please, please stick with it, because it is helping to save lives and protect the National Health Service.”

The UK Government Health Secretary said the military and NHS staff are on standby to roll out a vaccine from the start of December and will work “seven days a week”.

Matt Hancock said there were many hurdles to overcome before the “vast task” of vaccination could begin, including regulatory approval of the new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and assessment of its safety data.

But he said the NHS was leading work to get a vaccine to those most in need as soon as possible, though most people will not get a jab until 2021.

Asked whether it could be available by Christmas, Mr Hancock said that was “absolutely a possibility”.

Closer to home, Ms Freeman said a national plan for distribution of a vaccine is being developed using a “variety of routes and locations”.

Final details of what volumes of the vaccine will come to the UK and over what timescale are not yet clear, she said.

Ms Freeman added: “We’ve had quite a detailed discussion about whatever those volumes are, what would be the proportion coming to Scotland and we’ve settled on it being a population share.

“Because when we do the calculations based on where we think the numbers are in terms of priority groups, the difference is minimal.”