Community, Events, Stories

Dr. Samuel Ang: ‘At 70, I Still took Sinovac’

After last year, a lot has changed and thankfully, progress has been made. The news of the 600,000 donated Sinovac vaccines earlier this year was welcomed by many medical professionals and government officials. Amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, many doctors have talked about the importance of vaccines.

In an online dialogue with the Chinese-Filipino community, surgical oncologist and general surgeon Dr. Samuel Ang said the taking of vaccines is absolutely crucial if the Philippines were to succeed in its fight against COVID-19. Ang took up medicine at the University of Sto. Tomas and currently serves as medical director of the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center. The virtual event was organized by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc., and was mostly held in Minnan Chinese and Taglish. 

Current circumstances, Sinovac vaccine

The discussion largely centered on the current situation and the Sinovac vaccine. 

“I think we always tell people that as long as you wear a mask and [a face] shield, you are protected,” said Ang, himself a COVID-19 survivor. “Ang problema, in our zest to communicate with each other, our tendency is to remove the mask and then talk, not knowing that doing that, we are risking all ourselves to COVID.”

Ang was referring to the rising number of cases in the first half of March. It has been a year since the community quarantine started, and there has been a sharp downward spike in the mental health of many, an often overlooked consequence of the lockdown.


President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian during the arrival of the 600,000 donated Sinovac vaccines in the Philippines. Image from Chinese Embassy Manila


When it comes to vaccines and vaccine ethics, Ang said that he surmises senior citizens might be able to take the jabs next. For older senior citizens, though, they may need to sign a waiver before possibly being given the vaccine in case of any major side effects or health risks. Though the Philippine Food and Drug Administration recommends the Sinovac vaccine for those below 60, Ang has taken it. He turns 71 this month. 

Gua bo reaction ah (I haven’t experienced any reaction), Ang noted about his vaccine experience. In fact, according to Ang, Sinovac Biotech, the manufacturers of CoronaVac (the actual name of its vaccine), has also manufactured the hepatitis A, influenza, H5N1, and H1N1 vaccines. 

When the vaccines arrive in bigger numbers, Ang was asked if one should risk going to a hospital to get it, and he said that as long as safety protocols are followed, the public may do so since the life-saving effects of vaccines far outweigh the risks.


How Sinovac works and who can take it

There are many types of vaccines, and Sinovac is an “inactivated” type. “The real, live vaccine, yung tunay,” said Ang. For this vaccine category, scientists collect samples of the virus from a real live patient, and they kill the virus cells. The virus still remains whole, but it no longer has the ability to reproduce. 

Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue, in a forum last February, talked about how inactivated vaccines work.

“The virus is still whole, but it has been rendered unable to reproduce. A virus exists only for one thing: to hijack your cells and use your cells’ protein-creating mechanisms to make copies of itself,” Tan-Gatue said. The virus components that are part and parcel of the Sinovac vaccine are no longer able to do that because they have already died. 


Image from Chinese Embassy Manila


In other words, once a person is injected with the Sinovac vaccine, he or she is injected with the dead components of the COVID-19-causing virus. From there, the body’s immune system begins to create a defense against it, all the while not being affected by them because they’re already dead. This has been a traditional way of making vaccines. 

The Philippine government recommends that only those who are between 18-59 years old be allowed to take the Sinovac vaccine. For Ang, however, more should be given the chance to receive it, especially doctors. 

According to Ang, the following may be allowed to get vaccinated: those with heart prolapse, diabetes, asthma, hepatitis B, hypertension, Down syndrome, breastfeeding mothers, cancer patients, former COVID-19 patients, those on dialysis and pacemakers, and the like. In contrast, those with severe anaphylaxis ought to be more cautious. However, those who have conditions and want to be vaccinated should also get the approval of their own doctors first.

Besides getting vaccinated, staying healthy, sleeping well, drinking Vitamin C and lots of water will also help one stay healthy. Regarding the wearing of masks and face shields, Ang said it is absolutely vital that the public do so.


For more information on masks, such as the Chinese KN95 and Korean KF94 masks, read on here.


The author of this article: 

An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook:

Leave a Reply