This article considers the impact of COVID-19 on international protection applicants in the Irish asylum system. It presents a critical reflection on the failings of direct provision and how the experience of COVID-19 has further heightened the issues at stake for asylum seekers and refugees living in Ireland. In Ireland, international protection applicants are detained in a system of institutionalized living called direct provision where they must remain until they receive status. Direct provision centres offer substandard accommodation and are often overcrowded. During the pandemic, many asylum seekers could not effectively socially isolate, so many centres experienced COVID-19 outbreaks. This article examines these experiences and joins a community of scholars calling for the urgent end to the system of direct provision.