The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has given rise to dichotomous debates in international politics on whether authoritarian or democratic governance is more effective in responding to the pandemic. This study argues that the Vietnamese government, which is categorized as authoritarian(*), effectively managed the COVID-19 pandemic, at least until 2021, by utilizing vertical and horizontal political systems, networks, and social media platforms; increasing accountability and transparency through risk communication and providing scientifically credible information; and mobilizing organizations affiliated with the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and its diverse stakeholders. In the process, these social attempts have provided more room for citizens to participate in combating this pandemic that has resulted in a change in state–society relations. However, this change might not continue in reforming daily life.
*Categorized as an authoritarian regime by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU).