One of the world's largest countries is in the midst of its first major COVID surge.

According to scientists, China could be facing more than 10 million new cases a day now that COVID restrictions have been lifted. Several teams predict hundreds of thousand of deaths over the next few months.

As COVID continues to circulate, there is concern that it could lead to new variations, but they can emerge anywhere in the world.

The death toll depends on a number of factors, the most important of which is the effectiveness of China's vaccines.

Two of the main shots in the country are manufactured in China.

The majority of the population has received at least one dose of one of these vaccines.

There are a lot of rumors and misinformation about the vaccine. According to NPR, myths and misperceptions are problematic for vaccines made in China. Some people are leery of the made-in-China COVID vaccines because of previous issues with vaccines. According to a global health researcher at Yale University, the misinformation about these vaccines doesn't come only from inside China.

The American media has spread misinformation about the Chinese vaccines. Some English and Chinese media stories are translated into Chinese. The vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organization, but new stories in the US have questioned their effectiveness.

We thought it was a good time to dig into the science of the Chinese vaccines and analyze what the data show, especially when it comes to two major aspects of the vaccines.

There's a rumor that the Chinese vaccines don't work very well. Is that correct?

Ben Cowling is an epidemiology professor at the University of Hong Kong. That is not true, according to our research in Hong Kong. The Chinese vaccine is effective.

Pfizer and Moderna manufacture mRNA vaccines, but the Chinese vaccines are not. Both Sinopharm and CoronaVac use an older, but well-proven, technology that contains an inactivated form of the SARS-coV-2 virus.

In a study by Cowling and his team, the Chinese vaccine offered just as much protection against severe disease as the mRNA vaccine for adults under 60.

Cowling and his colleagues were able to compare the Chinese vaccine to the Pfizer vaccine in a face-to-face match. Half of Hong Kong's population had received the Pfizer vaccine, while the other half had not. More than 13 million doses were given to Hong Kong's 7.4 million people.

Guess what happened.

Both vaccines provide a high level of protection against severe COVID.

The data from 20,000 COVID cases was analyzed by Cowling and his team. They found that there was a high level of protection against severe disease for people under 60. Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine offered 95 to 97% protection, while two doses of the CoronaVac vaccine offered between 89 and 94% efficacy, according to the team.

The Pfizer vaccine was more effective for older adults after only two shots. The Pfizer vaccine gave about 87-to-92% protection while the CoronaVac gave only 64-to-75%. Cowling points out that the same protection can be seen with three doses of Pfizer.

Cowling says there's a good level of protection for three doses. The Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is recommended for people over the age of 60.

Cowling thinks the misinformation may be related to the effectiveness of the vaccine against infections.

The Chinese vaccines have a lower level of protection against infections. Cowling says something between 50 and 60 percent effective. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines gave high levels of protection against the original strains of the virus.

The emergence of the immune-evading variant, such as delta and omicron, made all vaccines useless against infections for more than three to four months after the vaccine was given.

There is uncertainty regarding the longevity of this protection. There is evidence that the protection against severe disease waned more quickly for CoronaVac than for the Pfizer vaccine. The study didn't separate the data by age and other studies have shown that protection declines more quickly for older people According to the Global Times, the Chinese health officials recommend older adults and people with weakened immune systems get a fourth shot.

The Chinese vaccines aren't safe or have been tested poorly. Is that correct?

The vaccines were only tested on people under the age of 60 in the initial trials. The first two vaccine campaigns in China were not focused on elders.

The low vaccine rate among elders in China is a result of the exclusion from the trials and campaigns. Concerns have been raised about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines among the elders.

CoronaVac and Sinopharm have been tested in more than a dozen international studies, including one in Turkey with 12,000 participants and one in Brazil with more than 3 million participants. The University of So Paolo oversaw the immunization of 12,000 people in a study looking at the safety of CoronaVac. The team reported that all of the adverse events were unrelated to vaccine. The data available to date indicates that Sinovac-CoronaVac is generally well-tolerated and consistent with the safety profile of other licensed, alum-adjuvanted inactivated vaccines.

In over 100 countries, CoronaVac and Sinopharm have been administered to hundreds of millions of people. About half of all shots were made up of them. There have been no reports of serious side effects with these vaccines.

Concerns about the safety have continued. Doctors in China don't know if the vaccines are safe for the elderly. There's a lot of distrust and confusion about these vaccines, which the government has pushed so much. There is a lot of misinformation about the vaccine on Chinese social media.

She says that the Chinese government has done very little. More needs to be done by the government to convince people that the vaccines are safe. She says they need the most shots because they need the most protection. The more vulnerable need more frequent boosters.

China will not be out of the woods until another surge ends.