This paper examines how social protection has responded to the needs of the vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. It starts by analysing the role of a shock-responsive social protection and the approaches countries adopted in expanding social protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper then moves into the Malaysian context. It analyses the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations in Malaysia and assesses Malaysia’s adopted social protection measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The final section reviews the lessons learnt for social protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy recommendations to further strengthen Malaysia’s social protection system will also be made in the last section.