The coronavirus (COVID-19) shook the world in March 2020 and soon after brought the world to a standstill. Governments across the world enforced a massive lockdown that resulted in multiple industries suffering billions of dollars in losses.
The live poker industry across the world was shut down and live poker players were forced to turn to online poker sites. Most countries started to ease the lockdown in August 2020 but were forced to go into a second lockdown as a new wave of COVID-19 broke out. Governments across the world have been waiting for a coronavirus vaccine to be released since it appears to be the main solution to combat the pandemic.
UK Approves Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
More recently, efforts to develop a vaccine that would help fight the virus have reached a major breakthrough after the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which experts claim can give 95% protection against COVID-19.
The UK’s medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has approved the vaccine after it was found safe for mass rollout. The regulator said the vaccine was assessed in accordance with their strict standards for quality, safety, and effectiveness. The first doses of the vaccine are now on their way to the country, and elderly people in care homes, as well as care home staff will be the first to get the jabs.
US Plans Rapid Vaccine Rollout
Meanwhile the US government has announced plans for mass vaccination, targeting 20 million Americans by the end of 2020. This comes following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, bringing it back to the top of the list in terms of new infections and hospitalizations.
The government’s designated expert panel on vaccines will discuss the plans on December 10, during which they could make a decision whether to approve the Pfizer vaccine. Another vaccine developed by Moderna will also be reviewed. Shortly after approval, the vaccine will be injected to people’s arms, according to former GlaxoSmithKline executive Moncef Slaoui.
Great News for the Poker World
This latest development could signal a change to how the world responds to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, and more importantly, it sends out a message of hope and optimism that people can finally develop immunity to COVID-19, a long-term solution to prevent a deadly viral infection that claimed nearly 1.5 million lives across the globe.
Live poker in particular could go back to normal, after being essentially closed since mid-March due to the pandemic. So starting next year, we might see the highly-anticipated return of popular major festivals and live poker tournaments around the world, including the European Poker Tour, World Poker Tour, Triton Poker Super High Roller, and the World Series of Poker (WSOP), among others.
The US is currently leading the way when it comes to the reopening of the live poker scene, with various casinos and poker rooms welcoming back customers in multiple states as early as July. The reopening was then followed by live tournaments, the latest of them is the ongoing 2020 WSOP Main Event which will crown a winner at The Rio in Las Vegas on December 30.
Most European countries have some form of lockdown still in force and travel restrictions are still in effect between countries. There is no telling as to when they will proceed with a vaccine rollout. Live poker in EU nations will still a while to get back to normal and will depend on the timing of the vaccine.
However, if the UK and US have success with the vaccine rollout, EU nations will follow suit quickly. Poker players can be optimistic and expect a number of feeler tournaments to take place during the first half of 2021. The WSOP, the world’s longest-running and most prestigious poker festival, might make a comeback next summer, though the events will still likely be limited.

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