That figure could be reached if the recovery is protracted and the economic crisis persists, pushing an additional 207 million people into poverty, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) said.
Under a "baseline" scenario, based on current mortality rates and recent growth projections by the International Monetary Fund, the study sees another 44 million people being driven below the poverty line over the next 10 years.
However, the surge of extreme poverty can be averted, the UNDP said. Through investments in welfare programs, governance, digitalization and a green economy, the world's pre-pandemic development trajectory could even be exceeded, lifting 146 million more people out of poverty.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is a tipping point, and the choices leaders take now could take the world in very different directions," UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said in a press release.
"We have an opportunity to invest in a decade of action that not only helps people to recover from COVID-19, but that resets the development path of people and planet towards a more fair, resilient and green future."