The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the results of two research studies that Veterans Affairs officials say are needed to determine whether new health conditions should be added to the list of Agent Orange-connected diseases.
"There has been a shift in the schedule for [VE-HEROes] ... because the team members responsible for handling these duties are supporting VA's response to the COVID-19 national emergency," VA spokeswoman Christina Noel said in a statement to Military.com.
"The Vietnam Mortality study,” she added, “is expected to be submitted for peer review and publication starting in mid-2021.”
VA officials had said they were waiting for the results to be analyzed, reviewed and readied for publication before they would make a decision on adding bladder cancer, Parkinsonism, hypothyroidism or hypertension to the list of Agent Orange presumptive conditions.
Some 34,000 Vietnam-era veterans were exposed to herbicides during the war and later diagnosed with bladder cancer, Parkinsonism or hypothyroidism. More than 156,000 veterans who served and were exposed have been diagnosed with hypertension, or high blood pressure.