It was the H1N1 virus - swine flu.
Fortunately our worst nightmare never came true. While the strain killed an estimated 18,000 people worldwide, it accounted for fewer than 5% of flu-related deaths that year.
My pick in this month's World's Least Expensive Portfolio intends to eliminate the H1N1 virus forever.
But that is only one of this company's goals. They are also going after the "bird" flu. And the common flu virus. And a few other viruses I will get to in a moment. If just one of their vaccines is successful, the company could hand you gains of at least 136%.
The company's efforts are based on their proprietary virus-like particle (VLP) technology. It works by mimicking the flu virus and, thus, tricking the immune system into responding. The result is increased immunity against the actual virus.
The technology also makes it possible for the company to develop a vaccine in a fraction of the time it takes their competitors. Going back to the original swine flu outbreak, the company was able to clone the virus and develop a VLP-based vaccine in only 12 weeks.
The technology has shown so much promise that it has even caught the attention of the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services awarded the company a contract worth up to $179 million over the next five years to develop a vaccine for the common flu.
It is easy to see why. Approximately $80 billion is spent every year on treating the common flu. Grabbing a significant part of that market could drastically alter the company's future.
If the government has taken notice, you can bet the company is doing something right.
If they succeed in creating a vaccine for the common flu, they could see their share price skyrocket. But that is only part of the story. They are also working on a vaccine for shingles.
What's more gratifying than investing in a stock "set to soar"... and then making a pile of dough before the rest of the world even hears about it?
It's a sweet feeling, but it doesn't happen enough. That's because of the Catch 22 of investing: To make big returns, you have to take big risks.
But now, the investing experts at Liberty Street Investor have discovered a special way to play the market without taking serious risks. It's amazingly simple. And it doesn't require risking more than $50 to $100 per pick.
There are 1 million new cases of the shingles virus every year. The disease primarily attacks those over the age of 50, and it can be debilitating. The government's recommendation is for everyone over the age of 60 to get vaccinated against it.
The company is going after the HIV virus, too. They have developed a vaccine that is currently in pre-clinical trials. To give you an idea of how well respected the company is, the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, and Emory University collaborated with them on this vaccine.
As you can see, this is an extremely ambitious company.
Right now, the stock trades for around $2.50 a share. Yahoo Finance has the 1-year target price at $5.90. TheStreet.com has it at $6.30. On the low side, that would hand you a gain of 136% in the next 12 months.
And if one of the company's vaccines gets through clinical trials more quickly than expected, investors could be rewarded with gains that are much bigger, much sooner.