Francis Durham seems to think “the cruel treatment of animals” in Chinese open-air markets has caused the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the world (We need nanny state, Letters, March 13). He compounds his error by recommending the expansion of our already over-solicitous “nanny-state” as a prophylactic.

Those who have never lived under socialism and its natural sequel, communism, perhaps cannot imagine the malaise of life without freedom. Communism is the source of the coronavirus, legitimised by the West’s crony-corporatists who have exploited China’s inhumane sweat-shops for profit. While our political-class tax and regulate small and medium-sized businesses in the UK to the brink of survival, ostensibly to ‘save the planet’, they have no hesitation in subsidising their chosen corporatists - or working with an authoritarian regime that cruelly enslaves its own people in a shamefully polluted environment.

No, an expansion of the ‘nanny-state’ is not the answer. We need to take our lead from America: get rid of the regulatory burden, wage controls, green-taxes and a bureaucracy that thinks it knows better than individuals how to run their lives. Citizens are endlessly innovative and can trade themselves out of danger provided only that elected representatives (who have no expertise in epidemiology) limit themselves to doing their main job: keeping the peace and protecting the realm. Like the Chinese people, we would be infinitely safer without a suffocating “nanny-state”.

Prof. Christine Wheeler McNulty

Oxhey Hall