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Protesters crowd a food distribution center in Abuja, Nigeria, in October 2020. Photo: Kola Sulaimon/AFP via Getty Images

A new paper makes the case that the increase in extreme poverty triggered by COVID-19 rivals the pandemic's direct health effects.

Why it matters: The pandemic of extreme poverty could be lasting, and it deserves far more of the world's attention and help than it has gotten so far.

By the numbers: Researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) set out to calculate the impact of the pandemic on human wellbeing by using human life-years to quantify the effects of both increased mortality and higher poverty.

  • They estimated almost 20 million life-years were lost globally between the start of the pandemic and December 2020.
  • Over the same time period — and using the most conservative measurements of impoverishment — over 120 million additional life-years were spent in poverty because of the pandemic.

The big picture: Richer countries like the U.S. — which tended to have older populations more vulnerable to the disease but also the financial ability to cushion their citizens — primarily experienced COVID-19 as a matter of mortality.

  • But most poor and middle-income countries experienced increased poverty as a bigger loss of wellbeing than the disease itself.

What they're saying: While it might seem as if developing countries like Nigeria (2,117 confirmed deaths so far) largely escaped COVID-19, "when the welfare costs of economic deprivation are taken into account poorer countries may have been just as hard hit in 2020," writes Francisco Ferreira, an economist at LSE and one of the co-authors of the paper.

What's next: A double bind for some of the poorest countries in the world.

Go deeper

Food fears rising

A sales assistant arranges fruit in a supermarket in the Philippines. Photo: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Global food prices aren't leaving any wiggle room for bad harvests or demand spikes.

The state of play: A UN index of food prices "has reached its highest since September 2011, climbing almost 5% last month," reports Bloomberg. Another tracker of "prices from grains to sugar and coffee is up 70% in the past year."

Women are leading the new Latin American literature boom

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: David Levenson, Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Gone are the whimsical elements, and in come the suspense, the gothic and the noir. The new Latin American Boom is here, and it is being led by women.

What’s happening: Writers like Argentines Samanta Schweblin and Mariana Enríquez, Mexican Fernanda Melchor and Chilean Lina Meruane have made international waves with books that comment on quotidian violence — gender and otherwise — as well as othering through pulse-racing, enthralling and occasionally beautiful horror.

Updated 29 mins ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Suni Lee. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

🥇 : U.S. gymnast Suni Lee wins gold in the women's individual all-around

🤸🏾‍♀️: Simone Biles reacts to "love and support" after withdrawing from all-around gymnastics and team finals, citing her mental health

🏃: U.S. pole vaulter Sam Kendricks withdraws from Games after positive coronavirus test

🏊‍♂️: Caeleb Dressel wins gold in men's 100m freestyle —Bobby Finke wins gold in first men's Olympic 800m freestyle

📷: In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 6 highlights

🗓: The Olympic events to watch today

🏃‍: Female Olympians push back against double standard in uniforms

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage