Nicola Sturgeon has declared that Scotland is "ready" to start vaccinations "as soon as supplies arrive, after it was announced that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the UK.

The First Minister called it "the best news in a long time", while officials say the vaccine will be made available “from next week”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use.

READ MORE: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in Scotland: Who will get it, when and how?

"This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will shortly also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”

The Department of Health and Social Care spokesman added: “The NHS has decades of experience in delivering large scale vaccination programmes and will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to provide care and support to all those eligible for vaccination.

“To aid the success of the vaccination programme it is vital everyone continues to play their part and abide by the necessary restrictions in their area so we can further suppress the virus and allow the NHS to do its work without being overwhelmed.

“Further details will be set out shortly.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “Help is on its way. The MHRA has formally authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19.

“The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week.

“The UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine for supply.”

Scotland’s interim chief medical officer Gregor Smith tweeted: “Wonderful news that MHRA has approved the authorisation to supply Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

“First of several vaccines in pipeline and begins to change everything for our future.”

Public health expert Professor Linda Bauld said she is “delighted” the first of the vaccines scientists have been working on has been approved for use.

She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that while she welcomes news of the vaccine’s approval, it will be a “major logistical exercise” to vaccinate the country’s adult population.

Prof Bauld said: “After hearing the results of these four vaccines we have early preliminary results for, then just waiting for the regulators to act, and the MHRA has been looking at data on the Pfizer vaccine for some time, now they are able to approve that for use and we have done that incredibly quickly.

“It’s really encouraging news.”

She said as many as 4.4 million people in Scotland could be vaccinated, adding that the Scottish Government hopes to vaccinate at least one million by the end of January.

She said: “Other vaccines will get approval now, I would be pretty confident the AstraZeneca/Oxford one will as well, so Pfizer will not be the only show on the road, if that makes sense.

“But I would imagine we will see things gearing up very quickly in the next few days.”

Speaking about when life could become more normal, she added: “I would be very optimistic that by the spring there will be much more we can do.

“It’s going to take some months though to get this to everybody and we need to keep that in mind.”