In December 2019, a respiratory illness due to a novel coronavirus, SARS‐CoV‐2, was first identified in China. The respiratory illness due to SARS‐CoV‐2, termed COVID‐19, is now a worldwide pandemic and has been identified in 183 countries and 266 073 people.
Common symptoms of COVID‐19 include cough, shortness of breath, and fever; disease ranges in severity from asymptomatic infection, mild disease (in 81% of patients), to pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death. Worldwide there have been 11,184 deaths associated with COVID‐19, and the current data suggest that the elderly or those with comorbid conditions such as hypertension or diabetes are at the highest risk for mortality.
Although intensive precautions to limit spread in China appear to be decreasing the number of new cases within China, the global number of infections continues to rise rapidly. Identification of COVID‐19 in the United States has been challenging, given insufficient availability of testing supplies.
Although, supplies and testing are starting to increase significantly in the United States, among countries affected by COVID‐19, the United States has among the lowest testing per capita. The inability to test widely and quickly has hindered our ability to characterize the epidemiology of the disease, prevent further spread, and ensure the optimal use of other limited resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and medication therapy.
Pharmacists play an essential and unique role within the healthcare team to optimize patient care during this COVID‐19 pandemic.