Scott Alexander sums up story behind the British Plan of a few weeks ago to build herd immunity:
A UK critical care doctor on Reddit wrote a great explanation of their recent about-face on coronavirus strategy.
They say that over the past few years, Britain developed a cutting-edge new strategy for dealing with pandemics by building herd immunity. It was actually really novel and exciting and they were anxious to try it out. When the coronavirus came along, the government plugged its spread rate, death rate, etc into the strategy and got the plan Johnson originally announced. This is why he kept talking about how evidence-based it was and how top scientists said this was the best way to do things.
But other pandemics don’t require ventilators nearly as often as coronavirus does. So the model, which was originally built around flu, didn’t include a term for ventilator shortages. Once someone added that in, the herd immunity strategy went from clever idea to total disaster, and the UK had to perform a disastrous about-face.
You bought the world’s most sophisticated hammer, so everything looks like a nail, even when it turns out to be nitroglycerin.