Research has demonstrated that situational factors such as perceived threats to the social orderactivate latent authoritarianism. The deadly COVID-19 pandemic presents a rare opportunity totest whether existential threat stemming from an indiscriminate virus moderates the relationshipbetween authoritarianism and political attitudes toward the nation and outgroups. Using data fromtwo large nationally representative samples of adults in the United Kingdom (N = 2,025) andRepublic of Ireland (N = 1,041) collected during the initial phases of strict lockdown measures inboth countries, we find that the associations between right-wing authoritarianism and 1)nationalism and 2) anti- immigrant attitudes are conditional on levels of perceived threat. Asanxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic increases, so too does the effect of right-wingauthoritarianism on those political outcomes. Thus, it appears that existential threats to humanityfrom the COVID-19 pandemic moderate expressions of authoritarianism in society.