The total column ozone (TCO) observed from satellites and assimilated in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts since 1979 is used as an atmospheric tracer to study the modulations of the winter Arctic stratosphere by the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and the solar cycle. It is found that both the QBO and solar forcings in low latitudes can perturb the late winter polar vortex, likely via planetary wave divergence, causing an early breakdown of the vortex in the form of sudden stratospheric warming. As a result, TCO within the vortex in late winter can increase by ~60 Dobson unit during either a solar maximum or an easterly phase of the QBO, or both, relative to the least perturbed state when the solar cycle is minimum and the QBO is in the westerly phase. In addition, from the solar maximum to the solar minimum during the QBO easterly phase, the change in TCO is found to be statistically insignificant. Therefore, the “reversal” of the Holton–Tan effect, reported in some previous studies using lower stratospheric temperature, is not evident in the TCO behavior of both observation and assimilation.