To cope with the pandemic, Asia's poor are missing meals and selling their assets. Governments need to target policies toward the most vulnerable in order to stave off long-term damaging impacts.

Disruption in economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic increased the extreme poverty rate in the 35 developing countries in Asia that we studied by about 2 percentage points in 2020, compared to a scenario without COVID-19.

In terms of the number of poor, the increase in the $1.90 poverty rate corresponds to roughly 75 million to 80 million poor people.

People across developing countries in Asia relied on various coping strategies to manage financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but some of these strategies cause scarring effects in the long term and could be potentially costly. Lower-income households were more likely to experience pronounced declines in their expenditure, which signals increasing inequality.

The pandemic has been more devastating for these poorer households, perhaps due to substantial job losses.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 30 2021, of The Himalayan Times.