When and why do state responses to crises such as the covid-19 pandemic embody hypermasculinity? How does state hypermasculinity contribute to mortality during a pandemic? This article examines state hypermasculinity as a main atrocity risk factor and as a root cause of preventable deaths arising from failures in pandemic response. It focuses on the case of the Philippines under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte to build on feminist scholarship examining gender, crises, and the rise of ‘strongman’ leaders globally. It argues that a state’s predisposition for violence and atrocity crimes renders disease outbreaks more deadly. Significant loss of life and livelihoods during the pandemic are logical outcomes of state structures and responses that combine militarised security, paternalism, and domination of feminised ‘others’. Crucially, the implications of state hypermasculinity extend beyond pandemics as it is clearly emerging as a vector for compounded human insecurities at a time of multiple and overlapping crises.