The number of Australians in hospital with COVID-19 is at the highest point since the pandemic's beginning, according to global data.
There are 5,571 people in hospital at July 26, which is the highest number since January.
Australia's COVID-19 deaths are also climbing, ranking second in the world for deaths per million people over the last seven days according to Professor Mike Toole, an epidemiologist from the Burnet Institute.
Australia recorded 509 deaths in the last seven days, according to statistics from COVIDlive.
We're only really now having the pandemic; what we had before was bits of the pandemic- Associate Professor Chris Degeling
A University of Wollongong expert said the full force of the pandemic is finally hitting Australia.
Associate Professor Chris Degeling, a principal fellow at the Australian Centre for Health Engagement, Evidence and Values, said what we're seeing now is levels of the pandemic we saw overseas last year, but in a vaccinated population.
"We're only really now having the pandemic; what we had before was bits of the pandemic," he said.
"Places like England and the US and Italy had these high rates of infection without vaccination coverage," Professor Degeling said.
"It was catastrophic, completely different," he said.
While the statistics painted a grim picture, the number of people in ICU is actually lower than anticipated, Professor Degeling said.
He said Australia's strong vaccination rate was preventing higher numbers in ICU.
"This suggests people are not getting as sick as they would have," Professor Degeling said.
"It's that high rates of vaccination that's doing the work," he said.
While focusing on the numbers of deaths was important, it was just as important to put them in the context of the last two years, he said.
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In the current surge, precautions like masks and social distancing could still make a big difference to reduce the spread, Professor Degeling said.
"We should all do our best to minimise transmission for other people."
The virus will likely have a long tail-end, Professor Degeling said, but the burdens of each wave should decrease over time.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Australians should take extra precautions as cases surge.
"In every state and territory, the number of cases according to those predictions are continuing to rise," Mr Kelly said.
"We're at the start of this wave, not the end."