Hold On to Your Mail-In Ballots: COVID-19 Omicron Subvariant XBB 1.16 is On the Rise 

Melinda Nagy / shutterstock.com
Melinda Nagy / shutterstock.com

With the success of COVID-19 as a voting boon for Democrats in 2020, it’s only natural that the next pandemic should begin swimming toward the shore as the 2024 elections begin to heat up. 

And right on cue, here it comes. Meet COVID-19 Subvariant XBB 1.16, your next potential mail-in ballot, economy destroying pandemic. 

When Monkey Pox failed to terrify pandemic-weary Americans, several other illnesses were paraded on the public stage, each a new and more disturbing version of COVID-19. That doesn’t mean the government is letting go of Monkey Pox, affectionately known as Mpox, as a potential candidate for ruining the nation. 

In Chicago, residents are not just battling crime and stupidity. Weary residents are also experiencing Mpox infections, with 20 reported cases and a dire warning that summer will see an increase in infections. Not entirely coincidentally, Chicago is also seeing an alarming rise in STDs. Mpox is spread through close contact, including sex with an infected person, and is of special concern for the LGBTQ community. 

True to form, San Diego is encouraging two rounds of vaccinations for “at-risk people” despite the California county’s lack of infections. In the summer of 2022, San Diego recorded 473 cases, 18 hospitalizations, and no deaths from the virus. 

In all, Mpox has a weak showing compared to COVID-19 and lacks the capacity to be the next pandemic. 

For a disease to be weaponized by Democrats, it needs to be something capable of affecting a larger population. Like a new, fast-moving Omicron variant known as COVID-19 Subvariant XBB 1.16. 

So far, Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have quietly replaced COVID-19 cases in the U.S. But this strain of XBB, also known as Arcturus, is poised to be the next big thing in pandemic terror.  

Unsurprisingly, this subvariant is not responsive to common antibody drugs historically used to treat COVID-19. Equally unsurprisingly, the ineffective vaccines created for COVID are also not effective against XBB 1.16, nor does prior exposure to COVID-19 provide immunity. 

XBB 1.16 displays the symptoms of every other COVID-19 and Omicron variant, including respiratory illness, flu-like symptoms, and loss of smell or taste. For added fun, Arcturus causes conjunctivitis as well. 

While XBB strains have been traveling the world, the first cases of Arcturus were not widely recognized in the U.S. until a steady rise of the variant started trending in April of this year, and Arcturus is now estimated to be responsible for just over 7% of COVID cases in the nation. 

The WHO is maintaining that the best defense against XBB 1.16 is a booster, even though the strain is resistant to vaccines. The booster recommendation is good news for Pfizer, however, and will no doubt continue to boost profits for big pharma and the Democratic leadership throughout the foreseeable future. 

Ironically, Arcturus infections began to increase around the same time as President Joe Biden lifted the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, potentially giving the administration enough time to fabricate a new one before November of 2024. 

Naturally, the WHO is all over this latest variant, which is set to overtake XBB 1.5, the Kraken variant, as the most transmissible variant yet. Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead for the WHO, warns that as cases of XBB 1.16 continue to rise globally, this variant will be “one to watch.” 

A mutation found in XBB 1.16 caused this strain to evolve effective defenses against antibodies and is more transmissible than its weaker counterparts. It’s uncertain at this time if daily tests, social distancing, closing bars at 10 pm, banning church services, and driving alone in a car wearing a mask will reduce the infection rate. 

As the variant continues to grow and dominate in countries such as Singapore, India, Japan, and China, no drastic increases in XBB 1.16 cases resulting in hospitalizations, ICU stays, or deaths have been noted. Of course, that reporting will change significantly as soon as Arcturus hits Americans. 

Still, there’s a lot of time between now and the 2024 election, meaning plenty of time to increase scare tactics surrounding this variant or to find one slightly more terrifying to use as an excuse to skirt voting laws.  

Mpox was a disappointment, but if COVID variants continue to mutate and evolve, a new pandemic might be just around the corner for Democrats hoping to continue the mail-in voting scheme that won them the 2020 election. 

Or they could just recycle leftover 2020 mail-in Biden ballots for 2024 and save themselves the trouble.