Bluer skies: inside the 1 January edition of Guardian Weekly | World news

For many people, the back of 2020 can’t come too soon. With a new virus strain upending millions of people’s Christmas plans in the UK, coupled with the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the lead-up to 25 December was … a hairy one. At least the belated announcement of a trade and security deal with the European Union on 24 December gave some clarity. But, as Britain finally detaches from the EU, it remains a country beset by the worst of the pandemic.

On that note, we wanted to look at the year ahead with at least some semblance of optimism. On page 40, writers from the Observer look at eight innovations and inventions that offer a bit of hope for the near future, while Mark Rice-Oxley, editor of the Guardian’s Upside series, considers other reasons to be cheerful about the year ahead. Through the prism of 12 world leaders, we also look at how 2021 might pan out politically.

Before that, though, there’s the Brexit deal which takes effect on 1 January. Tim Adams looks at how future generations will learn about how we got here, Brexit experts Lisa O’Carroll and Daniel Boffey examine what’s included in the deal and, finally, Irish commentator Fintan O’Toole says a sad goodbye to a Britain that helped shape some of the strongest elements of the EU.

And then … back to coronavirus. On page 15, science writer Laura Spinney looks at how Covid-19 has changed crime around the world – sometimes for the better, but increasingly for the worst. Ian Sample analyses the new Covid strains from the UK and South Africa and the effects they might have, and Adam Finn provides a handy cut-out-and-keep guide for the anti-vaxxers in your life as to why so many vaccines were produced so quickly and why they’re safe.

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