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At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many uncertainties around how Australia would be affected: how many cases and deaths would occur; would the health system be able to manage; what other parts of society would be disrupted; and would mental health and various social factors be adversely affected.

Now that the first year has passed, a number of these have been clarified; however, challenges continue to emerge. At the time of writing, key challenges were the emergence of new variants of the virus, and how quickly vaccines could be rolled out to the community. And while the severity of the situation in other countries continues, the risk of flow-on effects to Australia remains.

This report looks at the direct and indirect health effects of COVID-19 in Australia. This includes information on case numbers, deaths, burden of disease, impact on other diseases such as mental health, and changes in health behaviours. The impact on health services and on social determinants of health is also examined. It draws on data from a range of sources including disease surveillance systems, death registrations, hospitalisations, MBS and PBS, and surveys.

The report covers the first year of the pandemic, to around April/May 2021. Where possible, the most recent data available at the time of writing is included, however due to the timing of different data collections, some data are only available for periods within 2020. It does not include data on the latest wave of cases that began in June 2021.

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