The COVID-19 pandemic pushed an estimated 75 million to 80 million more people in developing Asia and the Pacific into extreme poverty in 2020, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released on Tuesday.
The report, Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2021, warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening Asia and the Pacific's progress toward critical targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report said the pandemic, which ravaged the world early last year, "has magnified long-standing social and economic inequities experienced by millions living below or near the poverty line."
As the socioeconomic impacts continue to unfold, the report said, "people already struggling to make ends meet at risk of tipping over into a life of poverty."
Assuming that the pandemic has increased inequality, the report warned further the relative rise in extreme poverty may be even greater.
According to the report, about 203 million people, or 5.2 percent of developing Asia's population, lived in extreme poverty as of 2017. Without COVID-19, that number would have declined to an estimated 2.6 percent in 2020.
To achieve the SDGs by 2030, decision-makers "need to harness high-quality and timely data as a guide for actions to ensure that the recovery leaves no one behind -- especially the poor and vulnerable," ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada said in a statement.