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Covid pushed up to 80 million into extreme poverty: ADB

Bangkok, Aug 24 (EFE).- The Covid-19 pandemic pushed between 75 and 80 million people into extreme poverty last year in Asia-Pacific, threatening the region’s progress towards achieving sustainable development targets, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday.

The rise in extreme poverty — defined as living on under $1.90 per day — was outlined in an ADB report on economic indicators from 49 countries in the region, including China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Fiji.

In a statement, the multilateral bank said that in 2017 extreme poverty affected some 203 million people in Asia, 5.2% of the population in developing countries, and that without the pandemic, this number would have been reduced by 2.6% by 2020.

“Asia and the Pacific has made impressive strides, but Covid-19 has revealed social and economic fault lines that may weaken the region’s sustainable and inclusive development,” ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada said.

The pandemic has jeopardized the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 agreed within the UN which hope to eliminate poverty, hunger and improve health and education systems, among others.

“To achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, 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,” Sawada said.

For much of the pandemic, Asia was less affected than other regions such as Europe and the Americas, but restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus, while succeeding in keeping infection rates low, caused severe damage to weaker economies. The Delta variant, first detected in India, is now wreaking havoc across much of the continent.

Vaccination is also progressing slowly in the region, with exceptions such as Singapore (with 74% of the population vaccinated with the full regimen) and Japan (40%). EFE


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