One unmasked rat is depicted mid-sneeze, leaving a trail of trickling blue mucus.
The video has been viewed more than 3.2 million times on Instagram and won praise from the artist’s followers.
“He thinks differently,” commented tennis star Andy Murray.
Transport for London, the authority that oversees the Underground, said the work violated the department’s “strict anti-graffiti policy” and removed it swiftly. Many of Banksy’s pieces, often guerrilla art created on private or government property, have been removed or destroyed over the years.
“Slow hand clap @MayorofLondon and @TfL - you’re on your knees financially, a world-renowned graffiti artist gives you a mural worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions, in time. Try to monetise it? Nah. You remove it. Well done everybody,” tweeted Theo Usherwood, the political editor of broadcast network LBC.
Banksy’s art has commanded prices well over a million dollars. He is known for creating commercially successful street art through media-savvy pranks that incorporate commentary on commodification into the art itself.
On Wednesday, the Evening Standard newspaper reported that the artwork had been “accidentally removed by a cleaner” who was not aware of its creator.
An unnamed source told the paper that cleaning staff “had noticed some sort of ‘rat thing’ a few days ago and cleaned it off, as they should."
The video documenting Banksy’s latest work ends with a reference to lyrics from British rock band Chumbawamba’s 1997 hit “Tubthumping.”
“I get lockdown,” the artist sprays on the platform as the song plays in the background. As the train’s doors closed, they reveal the next lyric: “But I get up again.”
London Transport suggested the artist should create his pandemic art elsewhere. “We’d like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location,” the agency said in a statement.
With more than 45,000 confirmed deaths from the novel coronavirus, Britain has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe and third worst in the world behind Brazil and the United States.
Last month the government announced that those using public transport in England must wear a face covering to slow the spread of the infection.
Tuesday’s video was the second instance in which the artist has used the pandemic as inspiration for his work.
In May, he paid tribute to Britain’s National Health Service workers with a painting that depicted a young child playing with a nurse superhero toy as Batman and Spider-Man lay abandoned nearby.
The nurse soars through the air wearing a mask and surgical gown, with her cape flowing behind her.
“The nurses and the hospital staff are the superheroes at the moment. It’s really flattering Banksy wanted to give us something here,” one hospital worker said at the time.
Banksy left staff with a parting message: “I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white.”