NICOLA Sturgeon has welcomed the “good news” about a potential new coronavirus vaccine, saying it was a “light at the end of the tunnel".

Speaking at the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said it offered hope that "science is going to find us the way out of this terrible time".

The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, is at an advanced trial stage and thought to be more than 90% effective.

It's been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

READ MORE: Pfizer vaccine: How significant is the new Covid-19 announcement?

The UK has secured 40 million doses in total of the vaccine. However, people will need two doses of the jab, which means insufficient shots have been secured for the entire  population.

Pfizer and BioNTech say they expect to be able to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

The data from the full trial is still to be submitted for scientific peer-review publication, and the figures presented so far are based on the first 94 volunteers to develop Covid 19.

That could see mean that the overall effectiveness of the vaccine changes when the full results are released.

The First Minister urged caution saying there “was still a long way to go”.

Sturgeon added: “But I think this is news that should give us all some tentative hope. And let’s be honest – all of us could do with that. But it should also give us some motivation to keep up with our own efforts in the meantime to make sure we keep the virus in check.”

She added: "There is light at the end of this tunnel and don't forget that. We've heard this morning about vaccine development – one of the vaccines been developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which has been trialled in other countries across the world.

“And the early indications is that it is 90%. That is good news – perhaps among the best news we've had in recent weeks. And it's not going to provide us with a way out of this today or tomorrow, or next week or perhaps even in this calendar year.

“But that development with all the other work that's going into the development of other vaccines does give us right now real hope that in the not too distant future, science is going to find the way out of this terrible time we've been living through.

“So hold on to that hope to the but also use it as a motivation – what we're living through right now, and all the restrictions that are so difficult for all of us, will not last forever.

“But it is really important that we stick with them now, so that we get out the other side of this with as few people as possible becoming ill with as few people as possible losing their lives, and that means all of us sticking with these tough restrictions that we are all fed up with, but that we know have an impact on reducing the impact of this virus.”

One of the UK Government's scientific advisors said he belived the vaccine could mean life return to normal by spring.

Professor Sir John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said it was a “major step” in the fight against the pandemic.

Asked by BBC Radio 4′s World at One programme if it meant life in the UK could return to normal by spring, he said: “Yes. Yes. Yes. I am probably the first guy to say that. But I will say that with some confidence.”

Bell, the Government’s life science adviser who also sits on the UK’s vaccine task force, said there was “no other really obvious way” to for society to get “on top” of Covid-19.

“I am really delighted with this result,” he said. “It shows you can make a vaccine against this little critter.”

He added that while people were getting used to “overstatements” about optimistic outcomes, “this one is pretty close to the mark” as 90% effectiveness was an “amazing level”.

“I can’t see any reason now why you shouldn’t have a handful of good vaccines available for this disease,” he said.