FOUR tests to relax lockdown rules next week have not been passed, Boris Johnson confirmed tonight as he announced a month's delay.
The PM told a gloomy press conference: "Today I cannot say that we have met all our four tests for proceeding with Step Four. On June 21 I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer."
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Scientists laid out sobering stats showing a worrying rise in cases and hospitalisations fuelled by the super-infectious Indian Delta variant.
They issued a chilling warning that hospital admissions would rise to the same peak as the first wave if the PM ploughed on with his roadmap.
It means that - although Britain's vaccine drive continues to make strides - the Government's criteria to safely proceed has not been met.
Mr Johnson said: "Now is the time to ease off the accelerator. Because, by being cautious now, we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people."
He also said tonight:
At tonight's gloomy press conference chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty talked through each of the four tests in turn and came armed with data.
Opening with the good news, he said the first test - that Britain's vaccine rollout was making strides - had been met.
He said: "I think everybody in the country knows that both first vaccinations and increasingly rapidly second vaccinations are progressing very effectively second to the work of the NHS, volunteers, and many, many others.
FOUR TESTS NEEDED TO LIFT LOCKDOWN
BORIS Johnson laid down four tests which had to be met in order to proceed with his roadmap.
Test 1: The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
Test 2: Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
Test 3: Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
Test 4: Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
"So this test has been met, and expect the rates to continue to be good as the Prime Minister has laid out."
Some 41million adults have now received their first dose, including 30million who have been doube-jabbed.
Tomorrow 23 and 24-year-olds will be called up for their first dose, the PM announced.
He was also positive about the second test - that vaccines were wrestling down hospitalisations and deaths - and hailed fresh data that two doses offered as much as 98 per cent protection against being hospitalised.
The third test - that infection rates don't drive up hospital admissions and swamp the NHS - was more bleak.
Prof Whitty revealed that hospitalisations is increasing 15 per cent week on week and 61 per cent in the North West.
And on the final test - that worrying variants were being kept at bay - he pointed to the dramatic spread of the Delta mutation across the country.
The variant - which new data shows is between 40 to 80 per cent more infections - now accounts for almost all new cases.
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Laying out the alarming picture Mr Johnson said: "We’re seeing cases growing by about 64 per cent per week, and in the worst affected areas, it’s doubling every week.
"And the average number of people being admitted to hospital in England has increased by 50 per cent week on week, and by 61 per cent in the North West, which may be the shape of things to come.
"Because we know the remorseless logic of exponential growth and even if the link between infection and hospitalisation has been weakened it has not been severed. "