This paper provides an introduction to this Special Issue of Development Southern Africa that evaluates the impact of COVID-19 in South Africa, one year into the pandemic. All of the papers use evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), a five-wave longitudinal survey conducted from April 2020 to July 2021. As we write this article in June 2022, South Africa has just returned to the same level of GDP that it had at the end of 2019. This two-year period marks one of the most tumultuous in the country’s economic history. We showcase results pertaining to employment, income support, hunger, schooling, early childhood development, mental health, and vaccine hesitancy. We also reflect on the policy learnings that can be gleaned in each of these domains and draw on some of the international lessons learnt to point to the way forward.