Nicola Sturgeon: Vaccine points to 'way out' of Scots Covid nightmare

The emergence of a vaccine with 90 per cent effectiveness points to a way out of Scotland’s coronavirus nightmare in the “not-too-distant future” Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said the interim results of the large-scale trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provided “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Tory leader Douglas Ross also hailed the results as an “early Christmas present”.

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Coronavirus in Scotland: First Covid-19 vaccine is 90% effective, trials say
A shopper wearing a protective face mask walks past a shop sign that read "Bring On 2021" in Edinburgh

A national plan is already in place to oversee distribution of the vaccine if, as expected, it becomes widely available, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said.

The 90 per cent success rate of the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate is beyond expectations of most experts and marks the first release of large-scale trials from several vaccines in developments

"There is light at the end of this tunnel," Ms Sturgeon said.

"The news we've heard this morning about vaccine development - one of the vaccines being developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which is being trialled in other countries across the world - the early indications are that it is 90 per cent effective.

The end of Scotland's Covid nightmare may be in sight

"That is perhaps amongst the best news we've had in recent weeks. It's not going to provide us with a way out of this today or tomorrow or next week - perhaps not even in this calendar year.

"But that development with all the other work that is going into the development of other vaccines does give us real hope that in the not-too-distant future science is going to fund us a way out of this terrible time we're living through.

"So hold onto that hope today, but also use it as a motivation. What we're living through right now and all of the restrictions that are so difficult for all of us will not last forever."

The Health Secretary said planning had been underway for some months in anticipation of the delivery of a Coid-19 vaccine in Scotland

The approach will be grounded in a "four nations" approach along with other UK countries.

"Here in Scotland it will be a national plan that covers the whole of the country with delivery localised to ensure that we can take account of the various populations and geographies of the country, but that there is a consistency across the whole country,” Ms Freeman said.

"We will use a variety of routes for delivery and locations, some of which people will have experienced in the current delivery of the seasonal flu programme, but adding more local delivery including the possibility of mobile units in some parts of the country where that makes more sense."

A final decision on who gets the vaccine and in what order will be down to the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation.

"We will follow their clinical guidance as we do with the flu vaccine programme," Ms Freeman said.

The UK has already ordered supplies of the vaccine from Pfizer and Scotland will get a "population share" of supplies.

Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith described the vaccine development as "really encouraging news”.

Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross added: “It’s an early Christmas present for everyone who has sacrificed so much over the last eight months.

“It offers a glimmer of hope that we can soon move forward and together we can get back to a form of normality."

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