Coronavirus RT-qPCR testing tutorial

A tutorial and worksheet for students to understand the TaqMan qPCR method for COVID-19, think about false negatives and false positives.
Coronavirus RT-qPCR testing tutorial

This tutorial explains the TaqMan qPCR method for Covid-19 as described by Corman et al 2020 1 and encourages students to think about why false negatives and false positives occur.  It ends with a small calculation of sensitivity and specificity but does not to go deep into the intricacies of qPCR test validation.  It is designed for early years undergraduates and some knowledge of PCR is assumed. 

The student’s worksheet is intended to be distributed to your tutees advance of the tutorial, giving them time to work through the information and attempt the questions.  It should take them very approx. one hour.   I'm assuming that the tutorial will run via Skype/Zoom/whatever and that there are ~2-6 students per tutor.  In a one-hour tutorial there should be sufficient time for tutors to take the discussion in different directions.

Educators are free to use the information in the tutorial in whatever way they like, I require no attribution.  I do ask that you continue to credit the work of those I have relied on.

The students' worksheet can be found here, if you'd like the tutors' version just let me know. 

Gus Cameron, School of Biochemistry, University of Bristol.  April 2020.

  1. doi:10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.3.2000045

Poster image by Helixitta, licensed CC-by-sa