1. The coronavirus pandemic will continue. The good news is that effective vaccines have emerged. But widespread, efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines will take many months and significant logistical challenges. Mistakes are almost inevitable. There could also be a rift between countries that have vaccines and countries that do not have a vaccine.
Questions, meanwhile, remain about how long immunity from vaccination will last, whether someone who has been vaccinated can contract the virus and infect others, and whether the virus will continue to mutate as it becomes more infectious. As a result, measures such as masking, social distancing, testing and contact tracing will continue to play an important role in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 throughout 2021 and possibly beyond.
2. Biden will take over as President of the United States at a time when Trump's legacy will be significant and sometimes defining. The 46th President may decide to join the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, but it will not be easy for him to resolve the issue of the trade war with China, but also to cope with the challenges of the Iranian and Korean nuclear programs. All the more so if these calls require quick answers.
3. China will seek to dominate world politics using soft power and economic power. The Chinese economy has already recovered and is expected to thrive in 2021. China seems to have concluded that winning the competition with the West is due to the "institutional superiority" of its political model and may convince the hesitant world powers of this.
4. COVID-19 hit the global economy hard in 2020. Global production is projected to decline 5.2 percent this year, with pre-pandemic growth projected at 2.5 to 3.4 percent. Not surprisingly, poor countries have been hit hardest by the recession. The number of people driven to extreme poverty by the pandemic worldwide could exceed 120 million.
5. Democracy will remain under threat. Freedom House reports that political rights and civil liberties have deteriorated globally for fourteen consecutive years. Leaders in countries such as Brazil, Hungary, the Philippines, Poland and Turkey have taken a series of measures that have worsened their democratic institutions. China and Russia will continue to pose serious challenges to the liberal democratic ideals of the West.
Top Ten Risks of 2021 from Atlantic Council Experts
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