Concerning the Bloomberg News Service article by Aaron Blake “The virus death toll has surpassed Vietnam. Is the comparison fair?” in the May 3 Star-Ledger:
It is only fair to compare death rates from Vietnam and COVID-19 when the silent killer Agent Orange is included. No one knows how many hundreds of thousands of U.S. veterans this chemical has killed.
While the official U.S. death toll from the Vietnam War may be 58,220, far more of the estimated 3.5 million who served in the war are likely to have died — or are dying — from complications due to exposure from toxic dioxin in Agent Orange. The military used Agent Orange as a herbicide in Vietnam and Thailand from 1962 to 1971.
A 1998-2006 study of more than 13,000 Vietnam veterans, half exposed to Agent Orange and half not, found that the exposed group got prostate cancer at twice the rate as the other group. Also, those in the exposed group were two-and-a-half times as likely to have the more deadly type of metastasis (spreading) form of cancer.
Despite this, the federal government and the Department of Veterans Affairs are not tracking or following up with Vietnam veterans about these health issues. Hundreds of thousands of aging veterans are left to find out about this silent killer on their own.
John Conway, Jackson