The article gives an alternative to the lockdown, namely targeted or focused protection of the most vulnerable parts of the population. I link to an article that makes the case. Here's a statement of what this approach would have meant:
"The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection" (link below).
No, it's not necessarily about protecting the economy, as social Darwinian conservatives would have it. It's about preventing the harms done by shutting down the economy, and balancing the need to avoid those harms with the need to protect people from the virus.
My understanding is that Europe bungled the vaccine rollout by meddling with the free market, by using the bloc's buying power to secure cheaper vaccines while sacrificing the speed of the rollout. That was a choice of priorities made by the bureaucratic central planners.
It's odd that you'd hold up the American approach to dealing with the virus as admirable. For all the US's resources, Trump's management of the problem was a farcical disgrace.
I'm not suggesting the free market would solve this medical emergency. The question is whether the government should have been more targeted in its protection measures. Of course, some of this is hindsight, since it wasn't known early on how easily the virus spreads.
Even if lockdowns were the best approach, they might have been doing double duty: protecting the population and channeling the medical experts' God complex. That's the point I'm mainly interested in in this article, not the technical question of how to end pandemics.